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Woman's Death Likely Caused By Dehydration And Exhaustion

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Woman's Death Likely Caused By Dehydration And Exhaustion

An inquest into the death of a New Zealand woman who went to Malaysia for a weight-reducing operation has found no evidence her death was caused or contributed to by anyone else.

Wellington Coroner Garry Evans found Moanaroa Krysia Zagrobelna died on Tioman Island, Malaysia, on June 18, 2007, and said this was most likely due to cardiac arrest, following dehydration and exhaustion after recent surgery.

A Malaysian police inquiry into her death concluded it was not suspicious.

The inquest was told Ms Zagrobelna was morbidly obese and had gone to Malaysia for a laparoscopic gastric banding operation to reduce her weight.

After her death her sister, Ewa Zagrobelna, alleged that there had been a failure of proper surgical/medical care and that the company which organised the trip, and surgical operation had some responsibilty for the death.

Ms Zagrobelna's surgery was carried out on June 4, 2007, at the UKM Specialist Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, by a consultant surgeon to whom she was referred by the Gorgeous Getaways company based in Australia which organised her trip.

She was discharged from the hospital on June 6 after an "uneventful" post-operative period, and had a follow-up consultation at the surgical clinic on June 13.

The coroner was told Ms Zagrobelna then went for a holiday to the island of Tioman with her husband, Bryce Lane. She was well throughout the holiday but lost weight dramatically and was eating little. She also complained of dizziness and sweating.

On June 18, Ms Zagrobelna became suddenly short of breath, started to sweat and fainted. She was pronounced dead upon the arrival of paramedics.

A Malaysian pathologist's autopsy found her death was due to natural causes.

The Coroner decided to hold an inquest into the cause and circumstances of Ms Zagrobelna's death after her sister's allegations to police.

After hearing evidence from a Wellington forensic pathologist and Wellington surgeon Professor Richard Stubbs, among others, Mr Evans said Ms Zagrobelna was prepared well for surgery, her surgical management followed correct procedures and there was no lack of care in her post-operative management.

There was also no evidence to show that Gorgeous Getaways contributed in any way to her death, Mr Evans said.

However, evidence presented showed that the most likely cause of Ms Zagrobelna's death was dehydration and exhaustion leading to hypotension and cardiac arrest. Ms Zagrobelna was vulnerable to the effects of heat, physical activity and dehydration owing to her post-operative state and it was likely that she was in a more vulnerable state than she realised.

Mr Evans said the court would not make any recommendations to Health Minister Tony Ryall in relation to government funding of gastric surgical procedures for morbid obesity but directed that a copy of the findings be sent to him.


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