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Simi man sues 1-800-GET-THIN over wife's death

February 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The family of a local woman has filed a lawsuit after she died five days following Lap-Band surgery.

John Faitro misses his wife Laurie every single day. They were married for 28 years. The 50-year-old Simi Valley woman died last July, five days after undergoing Lap-Band surgery at Valley Surgical Center in West Hills.

He says she became interested in the weight-loss surgery after seeing TV commercials for the 1-800-GET-THIN.

Laurie called the 800 number and arranged the surgery. John recalls his wife appeared to be in a lot of discomfort following the procedure.

"I kissed her and she said she was in a lot of pain. I go, 'I can't do much for you except pray for you,' so I prayed for her," said John.

Three days after surgery, Laurie's condition deteriorated. She went to Simi Valley Hospital where her husband says she was diagnosed with a severe blood infection.

The autopsy report shows that there were three small lacerations on Laurie's liver and her abdominal cavity was filled with three liters of bloody fluid.

The Lap-Band is a ring placed on the upper part of the stomach forming a small pouch.

Laurie's death certificate lists the primary cause of death as a cardiopulmonary arrest but also mentions the liver laceration as a significant condition contributing to death. it also makes note of the lapband surgery.

John is suing Valley Surgical Center, 1-800-GET-THIN LLC, Simi Valley Hospital and all the doctors who treated her.

In a statement, Simi Valley Hospital says: "Patient safety is our number one priority. Simi Valley Hospital is committed to its mission of placing the needs of patient first. We are unable to comment on pending lawsuits."

Attorneys for 1-800-GET-THIN say the Lap-Band procedure did not cause Laurie's death.

"The coroner's report shows that this young lady died from a myocardial infarction. That means heart attack. She also had a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in her lungs, which led to the heart attack, a terrible narrowing of the coronary arteries," said Brian Oxman, attorney for 1-800-GET-THIN.

"Obesity leads to heart attacks so what you have here is the complication of the heart attack had little or nothing to do with the surgery," said Oxman.

Laurie's death is not the only one in question.

In January, Eyewitness News also talked to the family of 52-year-old Tamara Walter of Lawndale, who died following a Lap-Band procedure. Oxman says Walter's death was not related to the Lap-Band itself, but due to complications from anesthesia.

John Faitro says he just wants others to learn from what happened to his wife Laurie.

"I just want them to see that Laurie was a person, that I loved her," said John.