Video: Teen dies after breast surgery

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/26/2008 9:53:38 AM ET 2008-03-26T13:53:38

A South Florida teenager who was captain of her high school cheerleading squad and had plans to become a doctor died after corrective breast surgery, a family attorney said Tuesday.

Stephanie Kuleba, 18, died Saturday, after suffering a rare reaction to anesthesia medication she received during surgery, according to reports. Kuleba was rushed to Delray Medical Center about two hours into the procedure to correct asymmetrical breasts and inverted areola, family attorney Roberto Stanziale said.

"This was something that was believed to be a routine procedure," said Stanziale who added it was too early to determine if any legal action would be taken. "There was never any indication that she was not going to walk out of that surgical suite. It's obviously devastating."

Kubela's reaction was likely due to a genetic condition known as malignant hyperthermia, which disrupts the body's metabolism, causing high fever and heart failure, doctors told TODAY's Mark Potter.

Dr. Richard D'Amico, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, told TODAY that the reaction can happen during any surgery. "The body reacts in a very rare, but very devastating way to very common, very useful anesthesias."

A message left after-hours at the clinic where Kuleba's surgery was performed was not immediately returned and a telephone listing for the Kuleba family was not available.

Grieving friends turned Kuleba's parking space at a Boca Raton high school into a makeshift memorial with flowers, candles and a teddy bear. Friends called Kuleba "Sunshine" because of her blonde hair and smile.

"I have chills right now just thinking about it," Ashley Gutknecht, 18, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "It doesn't seem real."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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