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West Doctor Sought Hollywood Limelight

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GILLIAN FLACCUS | November 13, 2007 09:45 PM EST | AP

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SANTA ANA, Calif. — The doctor who performed a tummy tuck and breast reduction on the mother of Kanye West is a plastic surgeon to Hollywood's elite and something of a celebrity himself, with a TV show of his own and a host of appearances on programs from "Extra" to "Oprah."

What Dr. Jan Adams hasn't publicized, however, is that the state medical board is investigating whether to revoke or suspend his license over alcohol-related arrests; that he has been the target of malpractice lawsuits; and that he's paid out nearly $500,000 in civil settlements.

Adams, through his spokesman Kevin Williams, confirmed for The Associated Press that he operated on Donda West, who died Saturday night at Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center in Marina del Rey after she stopped breathing at her home. She was 58.

Adams would not say when and where the surgery was done, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.

"I first want to express my deepest condolences to the West family at a very difficult time," Adams said in a statement read by Williams. "Out of respect for the West family and in the absence of other verifiable information, any comment from me without first discussing that information with the family would be unprofessional."

She underwent cosmetic surgery Friday in Los Angeles and went home, said Capt. Ed Winter of the county coroner's office.

The coroner's office said initial indications were that West died from surgical complications, but an official cause of death won't be made for six to eight weeks pending further tests, Chief Coroner Investigator Craig Harvey said Tuesday after an autopsy was conducted.

Adams, 53, told celebrity Web site TMZ.com that West's death was not caused by the surgery, but could have been caused by a heart attack, a pulmonary embolism or vomiting.

Some patients who sought treatment from Adams said they learned of him through TV, where he appeared as an expert guest on "Oprah," "The Other Half," CNN, "Entertainment Tonight," E!, ABC, NBC and "Extra." Adams, who had his own show on Discovery Health, also appeared in a TV advertisement for Chanel's Allure perfume, according to his Web site.

Adams also sells a line of skin care products, including a product that lightens skin, and has written two books on plastic surgery, including the 2000 title "Everything Women of Color Should Know About Plastic Surgery."

In 2001, two malpractice lawsuits against Adams ended in payouts of $217,337 and $250,000, state medical records show. Further details were not disclosed.

A woman suing Adams for medical malpractice in Orange County in 2006 alleged that she had to be hospitalized with a high fever and fluid in her left breast after botched surgery to remove excess skin and reshape her chest and abdomen. Plaintiff Jana Beighle eventually had the implants removed because of complications, her attorney, Thomas Gourde, said.

"She saw him on Discovery Health, so she decided to check them out," Gourde said. "He never told her that he'd had these ongoing problems."

Beighle's case, as well as two others filed in Orange County, are pending.

The Medical Board of California is also investigating whether Adams' license should be revoked or suspended after two alcohol-related arrests in the past four years, according to records.

Earlier this year, David Thornton, the board's executive director, filed a complaint against Adams alleging he violated the Medical Practice Act with his arrests. A hearing is pending in the matter.

In a 2006 case, Adams was found guilty of driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater, according to the records. He pleaded no contest in 2003 to driving under the influence. In 1994, he also pleaded no contest to another alcohol-related charge.

Adams graduated from the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1985 and says on his Web site that he received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University.

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Associated Press Writer Alicia Chang contributed to this report.