CHICAGO — The family of a southwest suburban hospital CEO who died after heart surgery is suing the University of Chicago Health System for negligence.

It has been four months since Don DeFrank lost his wife, 69-year-old Ruth Colby. She was an active mother and the CEO of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

Colby had begun experiencing health problems last summer

“If she played tennis, she would have to stop and catch her breath, if we did a bike ride she would have to take her time on the hills. So we definitely knew something was going on,” DeFrank said.

Colby was then referred to a heart surgeon at the University of Chicago who recommended what he called a “minimally invasive robotic procedure” to repair one of her valves.

“It was represented to the family this was like a 98% chance of success and ended up being 100% failure,” Keith Hebeisen from Clifford Law Offices, said.

Last week, the family filed a lawsuit against the University of Chicago Health System, and the doctor who performed the surgery, for negligence.

“Our expert says that surgery should have been a replacement of the valve and not trying to repair it,” Hebeisen said. “The second thing is during the procedure while attempting to repair the valve, there was some shaving of tissue around the valve done by the surgeon that made things worse.”

“To go from ‘Hey we’re going to be out of the hospital within a week,’ to now ‘We’re in a life and death situation,’ was a pretty big 180 for us,” Colby’s son David Chodak said.

Colby suffered heart failure during the surgery, unable to transfer off bypass.

“I asked her a couple questions and she just said ‘My system is failing.’ So they took her back for another operation and she was intubated on a ventilator and she never came back,” DeFrank said.

Colby died three weeks later in the ICU from multiple organ failure.

“Our whole family is devastated, I’m certainly devastated, just trying to get through it, it’s very, very difficult,” DeFrank said. “What I want to make sure is no more families go through what we’ve gone through.”

WGN-TV reached out to the University of Chicago Health System for comment but has not yet received a response.