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How The 2007 Death Of Kanye West's Mom Caused Him Shame & Grief That Has Never Left Him

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Kanye West, Donda West

Fans of Kanye West will already know that the rapper is a mama’s boy – West has long credit Donda West for his endless determination and self-confidence.

But never has West’s relationship with his late-mother been better captured than in Netflix’s three-part docuseries “Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy.”

The series follows West’s journey from a young aspiring musician to one of the best known rappers of a generation.

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Dr. Donda C. West, who served as professor at Chicago State University’s English department before managing her son’s career, features prominently.

The series makes it evident that much of what we’ve seen of West’s mental health battle in the past decade was spurred on by the loss of his mother. 

Here is everything to know about Donda West’s tragic 2007 passing and how it has impacted her son.

How did Donda West die?

Donda West died of “coronary artery disease and multiple post-operative factors from due to or as a consequence of liposuction and mammoplasty,” according to a coroner’s report.

She suffered a heart attack on November 10, 2007 after undergoing cosmetic surgery the day before.

Donda West was rushed back to hospital after going home post-surgery.

"The lengthy liposuction, tummy tuck and breast reduction surgery went ahead without any issues," the plastic surgeon, Jan Adams, claimed in 2015, explaining how Donda left the Los Angeles hospital to be cared for by a nurse at home.

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However, the following day, the “Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar” author experienced a sore throat and a tightening in her chest before collapsing and being rushed to hospital.

Donda, who was just 58-years-old at the time, was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital.

Kanye West said he blames himself for his mother’s death.

The rapper may have returned to stage just 12 days after Donda’s death, dedicating his song “Hey Mama” to her, but it’s clear he has struggled for years with coming to terms with his loss.

In a 2010 essay penned in the aftermath of his infamous Taylor Swift VMAs drama, Kanye appeared to blame himself for her death.

“When I moved to LA, she moved to LA. And she wound up in a place that would eat her alive,” he wrote.

Similarly, in a 2015 interview, he said that his mom was the biggest sacrifice he made for his success.

"If I had never moved to L.A. she'd be alive … I don't want to go far into it because it will bring me to tears," he said.

Arnold Schwarzenegger passed the Donda West Act after Kanye’s mother died.

In 2010, the then California governor introduced a new law in honor of Kanye’s late mother.

The law requires that all cosmetic surgery patients receive prior medical clearance following a physical examination, something doctors say was already common practice before the act was introduced.

The law was aimed at reducing the risks associated with cosmetic surgery.

Kanye West is still struggling with Donda’s death.

By 2020, after years of sporadic public outbursts, Kanye was still clearly being impacted by his mother’s death.

His then-wife, Kim Kardashian, spoke of his grief in a public address amid his controversial Presidential election campaign.

Kardashian described her husband as, “a complicated person who — on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man who experienced the painful loss of his mother — has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder."

In 2021, Kanye released his “DONDA” album — a tribute to his late mother that features recordings of her voice throughout. His follow-up album “DONDA 2” is expected on 2/22/2022.

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.

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