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Weight-loss surgery leads to woman's death?

January 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Local health officials are asking for an investigation into the Beverly Hills Surgery Center after a woman died following a LAP-BAND System procedure. She went in for weight-loss surgery but never returned home.Courtney Brown's 52-year-old mother, Tamara Walter of Lawndale, died after having LAP-BAND surgery in December.

Brown says her mother had gained more than 50 pounds in the past year and was excited about the procedure.

"She had a hard time bending over, putting her shoes on. She worked 18-hour days, 12-hour days, and it took a toll on her feet," said Brown. "She wanted to look pretty again, and in her eyes, she wasn't."

Tamara Walter came to Beverly Hills to have LAP-BAND surgery on December 22. Her family says about two hours after surgery, she stopped breathing. She was then taken to the hospital. The family took her off life support the day after Christmas.

"It's been horrible," said Brown. "Something like this should not happen. It shouldn't. It's a simple procedure, it's supposed to take 25 minutes, but yet four days later we had to take my mom off life support."

Brown says her mom got the idea about LAP-BAND surgery from a commercial.

"The catchy phrase and their promises to her to lose that much weight in six months to a year is what got her," said Brown.

Walter's surgeon, Dr. Atul Madan, is the director of a clinic called Top Surgeons.

Madan's attorney says that like Walter's family, they're looking for answers.

"Most of the time you have these kinds of events, it is an anesthesia problem," said attorney Brian Oxman. "It has nothing to do that we can tell with that LAP-BAND procedure. It doesn't have anything to do that we can tell with the doctor himself. It is probably the best of all of the procedures involving weight-loss surgeries. There's just nothing that compares to the safety record."

Brown says her family isn't thinking about a lawsuit. They just want answers. An autopsy was performed January 5. The results won't be available for several weeks.

"We want to know what happened so we can let it rest and our family can be at peace," said Brown.