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Friday, November 16, 2007

She was the inspiration for "Hey Mama:" A death after cosmetic surgery

Donda West, mother of hip-hop mogul Kanye West, may have died because of complications from surgery, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said Monday.

An autopsy may make clear the cause of death. West's publicist, Patricia Green, told CNN earlier Monday that West died after undergoing a cosmetic surgery procedure.

Publicist Jo-Ann Geffen said West contacted the surgeon again two weeks ago to say she was ready to go forward, but the surgeon said he needed a medical clearance before he would perform the surgery.

"I always insist on a medical clearance for women over 40, and in this instance it was particularly important because of a condition she had that I felt could have led to a heart attack," the surgeon said, according to Geffen's statement.

Geffen said she was scheduled to see an internist for the appropriate tests, but never made the appointment.

Donda West was a major influence on her son's life, as the music producer-singer-songwriter has often said -- including in lyrics to some of his songs. She regularly attended her son's concerts, and was at his performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in September.

Earlier this year, she released a book she co-authored called "Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar." She retired from her post as professor and chair of the English Department at Chicago State University in 2004 to become her son's manager, according to the Kanye West Foundation Web site. Donda West was the inspiration for the song "Hey Mama."

Advice to those thinking of cosmetic surgery: Be sure to consult your regular doctor first.

Read a very different elective surgery story, or read CNN's source story by Karen Bonsignore, K.J. Matthews and Lola Ogunnaike.

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