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Palm Harbor girl dies after tonsillectomy

PALM HARBOR — She was a standout softball player who dreamed of competing professionally.

She was a dedicated student who had a kind word for other children.

She was a 12-year-old girl whose bright smile, loving nature and strong drive portended great promise.

Carly Jane Liptak, who would have returned to Carwise Middle School this week for her seventh-grade year, died Aug. 15 after undisclosed complications from a tonsillectomy at Mease Countryside Hospital, a family member said.

Carly "was healthy" when she went in for the procedure, the relative said, but was later transferred to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where she died.

Mease Countryside confirmed it has launched an internal review into the circumstances surrounding Carly's death. An official there declined to discuss specifics, citing privacy laws.

"We want to make sure that everyone understands that our hearts go out to the family," Mease Countryside spokeswoman Beth Hardy said. "We're just very sad for them."

A tonsillectomy, the surgical removal of the tonsils, is performed to treat chronic tonsillitis or correct problems that obstruct breathing during sleep.

Possible complications include bleeding, infection, swelling and reactions to anesthesia, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Very seldom, though, do they lead to death.

Hardy said officials will review every aspect of Carly's care to determine what happened.

"It's a priority," she said. "We are taking a look at everything."

Passionate about softball, Carly played for Oldsmar Little League Softball for several years. This summer, she was a member of the Safety Harbor Little League Junior Softball All-Star team that won the District 12 championship in July.

Shawnee Fox, vice president of Safety Harbor Little League softball, said the middle schooler had "an infectious smile."

To honor her, District 12 will host the "Carly Liptak Funday" when it starts the fall season next month, Fox said. A memorial fund has been set up to raise funds for Oldsmar Little League.

Her spring coach at Oldsmar, who also coached her on the All-Star team this summer, said Carly was "upbeat" and encouraging to her teammates.

"She was a sweet kid," said coach Michael Bertisch.

And she was very talented.

"She had lightning-quick hands and generally hit the ball pretty hard and pretty far," Bertisch said.

Carwise Middle computer teacher Gary Higginbotham, who taught Carly last year as a sixth-grader, said she had a thirst for knowledge and was a favorite among her peers.

"She was a very loving person, very intelligent, caring, just a joy to be around," he said.

She had previously attended Forest Lakes Elementary in Oldsmar. Forest Lakes principal Karen Aspen said Carly was a great student with a positive attitude.

Several hundred people showed up at Carly's memorial service Saturday, Aspen said.

"She just was an amazing girl who touched so many people's lives," Aspen said. "Everybody liked her."

Fast facts

To contribute

A memorial fund has been set up in Carly's name. Donations can be made to the Carly "Pie" Liptak Memorial Fund, c/o Elisa and Kevin Liptak, Regions Bank, 3132 Tampa Road, Oldsmar, FL 34677. The fund will benefit Oldsmar Little League Softball.

Palm Harbor girl dies after tonsillectomy 08/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 7:15am]
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