Family Files Lawsuit After Teen Dies of Breast Surgery Complications

A year-and-half after a Florida high school senior died from complications associated with corrective breast surgery – the teen’s family has filed a lawsuit against the plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist who performed the procedure, WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach reported.

Stephanie Kuleba went under the knife in March 2008 at the Boca Raton outpatient surgery unit to correct asymmetrical breasts and inverted areola. But about an hour and 45 minutes into the surgery, things took a terrible turn. The teen was then rushed to Delray Medical Center for further treatment — but it was too late. She died the next day.

An autopsy later revealed Kubela died of a rare condition known as malignant hypothermia, which causes an adverse reaction to certain types of anesthesia.

On March 26, 2008, reported an intravenous muscle relaxant known as Dantrolene sodium (brand name Dantrium) is typically administered in the event of malignant hyperthermia, as it's the only effective treatment for the reaction. But the drug wasn't given to Kuleba at the outpatient center — only later, when she was at the hospital.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Palm Beach County, claims both the surgeon, Steven Schuster, and the anesthesiologist, Peter Warheit, did not recognize the condition quickly enough and did not properly administer Dantrium to counteract the condition, according to the report.

"People survive malignant hypothermia episodes if treated quickly and properly, according to medical standards," Kuleba’s mother, Joanne, said in a statement Wednesday. "Stephanie was not afforded such care."

Kuleba, who was co-captain of her high school cheerleading squad, had a bright future ahead of her. She was an excellent student and had been accepted into the pre-med program at the University of Florida, according to the report.

Neither the surgeon's office nor the anesthesiologist's office commented on the lawsuit, WPBF-TV reported.

Click here to read more from WPBF-TV.