He should be celebrating a new lease on life.
Instead, a Bronx man is mourning the loss of his sister, who died at Montefiore Medical Center while undergoing surgery to donate a kidney to him.
“She gave her life to save mine,” a devastated Roberto Medina, 39, told the Daily News. “She was a brave woman. My sister was a hero.”
Medina’s older sibling, Yolanda Medina, 41, died on an operating table at Montefiore two weeks ago, after surgeons cut her aorta during kidney transplant surgery.
The May 23 mishap prompted the prestigious hospital to shut down its live-donor organ transplant program and spurred a state health investigation.
Amid the mourning, Medina gained some hope when Montefiore told him Wednesday night that another possible donor had been found. If the deceased donor is a match for Medina, the transplant could be done Thursday morning.
Medina’s family tragedy began in February when Yolanda Medina, a mother of three young girls, found out her ailing kid brother needed a transplant.
At the time, Roberto Medina, who was diagnosed with kidney failure two years prior, had just started undergoing dialysis.
“You know what?” Yolanda Medina said to her brother. “I’m going to give you a kidney.”
The siblings worked together at a Bronx-based shipping company. He was an accountant and she worked as a customer service rep.
A group of relatives was at the hospital when Yolanda Medina was led into the operating room about 7:30 a.m. on the day of the procedure.
Less than two hours later, transplant surgeon Dr. Javier Friedmann emerged in the waiting area and informed them “there was a problem,” said cousin Luz Almonte.
“We had to stop the surgery,” the doctor continued, Almonte recalled. He said “a vein or artery was cut,” though she could not recall exactly which. “We controlled the bleeding. We had to resuscitate her.”
Roberto Medina was in a room nearby when he received the frightening news and was told the surgery was off.
“I got dressed and said, ‘Forget about me. Just take care of my sister,’ ” Roberto Medina said.
But about an hour later, the family members were called into a private room.
Friedmann said her heart was failing and told them to pray, Almonte said.
The news the family feared most came just before noon: Yolanda Medina was dead.
“It’s like one of those nightmares you want to wake up from,” said Almonte, 41.
The night before her doomed surgery, Medina sent Almonte text messages saying she was more worried about her parents than herself — since both siblings were going under the knife at the same time.
“My heart feels like crying,” wrote Medina, who left behind daughters ages 3, 8 and 10.
Hospital officials referred questions to the high-powered public relations firm Sunshine Sachs.
“This is a heartbreaking situation in so many ways, and our hearts are with the patient’s family during this difficult time. ,” said Julie Halpin, the Sunshine Sachs rep.
The Medina family has hired medical malpractice attorney Ben Rubinowitz.
Friedmann could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Roberto Medina was struggling to come to grips with the loss of his brave big sister.
“The last thing I remember about my sister — at 7:36 a.m., she stood by the door to go into the OR and she turned to me and she gave me a deep, deep stare,” Medina said. “She had tears in her eyes.”
Then, Medina said, she flashed a thumbs up.
“Like, see you later,” he added. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
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