Colorado Woman Dies After Surgeons Wrongfully Remove Two Good Kidneys

February 5, 2019 Updated: February 5, 2019

A Colorado woman whose kidneys were wrongfully removed months ago in a needless surgical procedure has died.

“Our wild, sassy, and beautiful mother, Linda Woolley, passed away on February 1st,” said the family in an update on GoFundMe.

Family members told KFOR that Woolley’s death may transform the case from a medical malpractice suit into a wrongful death suit.

Doctors at the University of Colorado Hospital removed both of Woolley’s kidneys in May of last year, according to KDVR. Woolley told reporters afterward that doctors told her she needed the surgery because she probably had kidney cancer.

But biopsy reports from March 2018 obtained by KDVR reportedly showed “no evidence of malignancy” and the results were “consistent with a benign process.”

“A big mistake,” is how Woolley described the surgery.

‘It Robs You of Your Life’

After the surgery, she was forced to undergo dialysis treatment three times a week, each treatment lasting about four hours. “My life was totally changed,” Woolley said. “Dialysis is no picnic no matter how used to it you get, it robs you of your life.”

She spoke to KFOR reporters in November of last year, saying the hospital had not apologized for the unnecessary procedure and that she was considering suing.

“It is terrifying because you have no choice when you go into a hospital. You trust that you’re going to be taken care of,” said Woolley.

Woolley shared her story on the program Problem Solvers in November. Investigative reporter Rob Low asked her, “Do you feel like the University of Colorado Hospital owes you an apology?”

Woolley responded, “I feel like they owe me a kidney, that’s for sure.”

Problem Solvers program staff reached out to the University of Colorado Hospital with questions as to what happened. KDVR reported that a hospital representative emailed a reply saying, “I don’t have any information for you about this.”

Jodi Fournier, Woolley’s older daughter, said her mother would still be alive if her kidneys had not been removed.

“Absolutely,” said Fournier, “there’s a few things the kidneys regulate, one of them being potassium. And when you don’t have them (kidneys) you have the dialysis that removes those toxins in your body. Her (potassium) levels were twice what they should’ve been and that ultimately caused the cardiac arrest.”

“Our mom had both of her kidneys removed in May of 2018 at the recommendation of the second urologist we consulted,” the family said on GoFundMe. “She had to attend dialysis three times a week because her body was no longer able to produce urine. She’s had countless complications that followed that horrific event—all made more aggravating because she was told after she no longer had her kidneys that she never had kidney cancer.”

‘We Are Heartbroken’

Woolley went into cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness before passing away.

“Our mom went into cardiac arrest on Tuesday (1/29) morning due to complications related to extremely high potassium levels,” the family wrote on GoFundMe. “She was able to be resuscitated at the hospital, was placed on life support, and our entire family gathered and waited for days for her to wake up until we got the news that she would not be waking up.”

“Simply said—we are heartbroken.”

Heidi Haines, Woolley’s youngest daughter, said that prior to her mother’s death, the family was optimistic for a recovery.

“This was completely unexpected. I (Heidi) was actually planning on donating a kidney to my mom this spring, and she was in the process of completing all of the necessary tests and procedures so that she would get the all clear to move forward with the transplant—she had a stress test scheduled for February 9th.”

“I thought I was going to be able to fix it,” Haines told KFOR, “and now I won’t get the chance.”

Fournier told the station that her mother loved to ride horses.

“It hit me really hard that she’s not going to get to ride with me anymore,” she said, according to the report. “I’m really going to miss that. She was so happy when she was riding, she was free.”

“Please consider helping out Linda’s loved ones during this difficult time as they navigate this tragedy and move forward in life without her,” the family added. “Donations will go directly to her daughters (Jodi, Sundae, and Heidi) to help with end of life celebration costs and future/past expenses.”

In a statement cited by KFOR, the University of Colorado Hospital said, “Our deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones. We are committed to providing the highest-quality care for our patients. Unfortunately, we are unable to discuss any specific patients because of federal and state laws that protect patients’ privacy.”

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM
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