THE daughter of a woman who died within weeks of a kidney operation said the family have been left "absolutely distraught" over revelations that the surgery should never have gone ahead.

Karen Millar said she was stunned after the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman found that removing the 79-year-old's right kidney had put her at "exceptionally high risk" of complications due to her age and medical history, including angina and a heart attack in 2016.

Kathleen Ritchie, a mother-of-five from St Andrews in Fife, was weeks away from celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary when she died on September 29 2017, six weeks after the operation at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

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Mrs Ritchie had been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma following the discovery of a small lesion on her kidney a routine heart scan.

Mrs Millar said: "Mum and Dad came home from that appointment shocked. The doctors had really stressed the urgency of doing this operation within four weeks as if it was a life or death thing, that there was no other option."

However, an investigation by the SPSO found that her case was actually low risk and should instead have been monitored with regular scanning.

The watchdog blasted NHS Tayside over "serious failings" in the grandmother's care and concluded that the operation had triggered "a cascade of complications" which could have been avoided.

The SPSO said it was also "inappropriate and unreasonable" that doctors had not discussed the scanning option with Mrs Ritchie.

Her daughter said the findings had come "out of the blue" because the family had still believed that the operation was necessary.

Mrs Millar had complained to the SPSO after finding errors in NHS Tayside's internal probe and feeling it "made light of" mistakes leading up to her mother's death, including leaving her to develop bed sores and fall into a diabetic coma from lack of food.

In addition, the family feared the cause of internal bleeding following the surgery was being covered up by the hospital after Mrs Ritchie's GP made enquiries on their behalf and said she was told the problems "stemmed from a nick in her artery during the original operation".

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No record of that has been found by the SPSO, but Mrs Millar said the family first became suspicious when the operation took longer than expected and a junior doctor mentioned that "something had happened", but rushed off before the family could get any other details.

Mrs Millar said: "They told us immediately after the operation that it was a success, but looking back something just wasn't right.

"It took twice as long as they said it would take and an anaesthetist, when my sister thanked him for looking after my mother, said 'well, let's hope she makes it through the night'.

"For the first couple of days she was well, she was walking about - she was on the verge of coming home when she rapidly deteriorated.

"When things started to go wrong, nobody was really giving us information. She was moved 10 times in the first 12 days. Sometimes she was only in the one ward for half a day.

"One of the Ombudsman experts said it could have been a nick to her diaphragm that caused the internal bleeding, but we don't know.

"We all thought 'that [nick to her artery] explains everything' because there was blood in the fluid drained from her chest, but after that everyone avoided us even more. Nobody would confirm it.

"There's no record of a nick to her artery, but that's what her GP was told.

"In some ways, it's left us with more questions than answers."

Mr Millar said she hopes lessons will be learned from her mother's death so that no other family have to endure the same ordeal.

She added: "She was just a nice, happy lady, with lots of friends.

"Kind, well known in the community.

"We have a big family, but I just think what would happen if it was someone with no one to look out for them?"

A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “We are sincerely sorry that treatment and care in this case fell below the standard we would expect.

“We accept all the recommendations made in the report and an action plan is being developed to meet the recommendations within the agreed timescales.

“We will be contacting the family again to apologise and offer the opportunity for a meeting with the Clinical Lead for Urology.”