Donda West, Kanye’s Mother, Died Of Heart Attack: Coroner’s Report

Report also says 'multiple post-operative factors' led to her death following surgery, but 'manner of death could not be determined.'

Donda West, Kanye’s mother, died of a heart attack, according to the coroner’s final report, which was released Thursday (January 10). The Los Angeles County Coroner has concluded that “coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors due to or as a consequence of liposuction and mammoplasty” led to her sudden death on November 10.

“In summary, it is my opinion Ms. West died from some pre-existing coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors following surgery,” Deputy Medical Examiner Louis A. Peña wrote in the report, which was obtained by MTV News. However, “based on the history and available information, as currently known, the manner of death could not be determined.”

The coroner’s office had been investigating possible complications from a cosmetic-surgery procedure that had been performed on her. West — who was the former chairwoman of Chicago State University’s English department — had a November 9 operation involving breast reduction, abdominoplasty (commonly referred to as a “tummy tuck”) and liposuction. In its preliminary autopsy report, the coroner’s office suggested West may have died “as a result of surgery or anesthesia.” At the time of West’s passing, a spokesperson for her family said she died “as the result of complications from a cosmetic surgical procedure.”

The report also says that after the surgery, West returned to her home in Los Angeles, “even though she was advised that she receive post-operative care at another facility.” West, who was reportedly in pain and breathing heavily at the end of her first post-operative day at home, “was left unattended and found unresponsive on the bed.” The coroner also determined that the breathing difficulties “may have triggered the cardiac event” that led to her death.

According to The Associated Press, when asked if West would still be alive if she hadn’t had the surgery, coroner’s office Captain of Investigations Ed Winter said, “She could, possibly. But she could have also died because of pre-existing cardiac issues.” The autopsy report also says, “Multiple post-operative factors could have played a role in the death. The exact contribution of each factor could not be determined. There was no evidence of surgical or anesthetic misadventure. … There was no evidence of a surgical procedure problem leading to hemorrhage or infection postoperatively or during the procedure.”

According to TMZ.com, two women who were not unidentified informed a dispatcher that West suffered a heart attack. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. The coroner’s report also says a friend of West’s called her nephew Stephen Scoggins, who is a nurse with an advanced degree in Public Health, and asked that he go to the surgery center where the surgery was performed because West wasn’t “waking up soon enough.”

The surgeon who operated on her, Dr. Jan Adams, spoke out later in November, reiterating his previously stated position: “When she left [my] office, there was no problem whatsoever.” He would not comment on the rationale behind his belief that West could have suffered a heart attack, but had said he considered the possibility of an overdose because he prescribed Vicodin for West. She “probably [had] a rough night” after the operation, Adams said, and had complained of pain the very next morning. Asked whether he thought West may have taken too many of the painkillers, Adams said, “That’s one speculation on my part, yes.” The coroner’s initial findings did not mention drugs as a possible link to her death. The California state medical board is also investigating whether Adams’ license should be revoked or suspended due to his two alcohol-related arrests in recent years.

A memorial service was held for West at Chicago State University on November 16. She was 58.

[This story was originally published on 1.10.08 at 3:35 p.m. ET]