A South Florida teenager has died of anaesthetic complications while undergoing corrective breast surgery.
Nearly two hours into the surgery, Stephanie Kuleba, 18, was rushed to Delray Medical Center, where she died 24 hours later, said the family's attorney Roberto Stanziale.
Kuleba was undergoing surgery to correct asymmetrical breasts and an inverted areola, he said.
According to Stanziale, a rare and silent condition called malignant hyperthermia could have killed the popular teen, who was looking forward to her senior prom and heading to the University of Florida.
(In the United States and Canada a prom, short for promenade, is used to describe a formal dance held at the end of an academic year.
While proms at smaller schools may hold a school prom open to the entire student body, large high schools may hold two proms, a junior prom for those finishing their 11th grade year and a senior prom for those who are finishing their high school years. The name is derived from the late nineteenth century practice of a promenade ball. The end of year tradition stemmed from the graduation ball tradition.)
Malignant hyperthermia, is an inherited disorder. Generally those who have it don't know they have it until they are exposed to certain anesthetics, Palm Beach Post reports.
It is a condition reversible if recognized and acted upon - usually within 30 minutes of onset - with Dantrolene, the only known antidote, said Dr. Henry Rosenberg, president of the Malignant Hyperthermia Association.
There is no simple, straightforward test to diagnose the condition, said Rosenberg.
Prior to the discovery of the antidote, about 80 percent of those who suffered from malignant hyperthermia died. But today it's more like 5 percent.
"There have been patients who have survived because people were well-prepared," Rosenberg said.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Steven Schuster, a board-certified plastic surgeon, in his Boca Raton medical office.
"I am devastated by the loss and I feel for the family," he said Tuesday in a statement.
Doctors won't know for sure the exact cause Kuleba's death until the results of an autopsy are in, but the Kulebas' attorney, Roberto Stanziale, told reporters Tuesday that he believed the fatal complication could have been prevented.
According to Stanziale, Kuleba's surgery began at 8:05 a.m., and paramedics were not called until 9:45 a.m.
"If in fact the medical examiner does come back and indicates to us that the cause of death was malignant hypethermia, the questions are now going to be: 'Why wasn't she diagnosed quickly? Why wasn't she administered Dantrolene? And if she was administered Dantrolene, was it done at the appropriate times and in the appropriate dosages?'" Stanziale asked.
According to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, nearly 348,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed in 2007, a 64 percent increase from 2000.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that between 2002 and 2003, the number of women and girls younger than 18 who got breast implants nearly tripled, from 3,872 to 11,326.
Doctors also say they are seeing more parents giving their teens the gift of new breasts or other cosmetic surgery for milestones like birthdays or graduations.
"I've seen an increase in teens having plastic surgery, and certainly for graduation," said Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg, a New York plastic surgeon and the author of "A Little Nip, A Little Tuck."
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons strongly believes that no one younger than 18 should undergo plastic surgery.
Cosmetic breast implants for patients younger than 18 are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, except in cases of reconstructive or corrective surgery, such as asymmetry.
Friends at West Boca Raton High School expressed shock and sadness during a candlelight vigil for Kuleba on Sunday evening.
"She was a role model for a lot of people," classmate Vicky Goldring, 16, told the Palm Beach Post. "She was incredibly smart. She wanted to help people. She was just a happy 18-year-old girl."
As her grief-stricken family members wait for a definitive answer about Kuleba's death, they cannot ignore the cruel irony that their daughter aspired to become a plastic surgeon, ABC News says.