'Wives' Author Olivia Goldsmith Dies

01/15/2004 AT 11:15 AM EST

Author Olivia Goldsmith, best known for her novel "The First Wives Club," died early Thursday night at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital from complications apparently caused during plastic surgery earlier this month.

Goldsmith, 54, whose real name was Justine Rendal and whose novel became a 1996 hit film starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, had been in a deep coma for more than eight days and died at 5 p.m. ET with friends at her side.

"We are saddened to announce the passing of Justine Rendal," lawyer Steven Mintz said in a statement. "It was her wish to donate organs to provide future life and comfort to others."

While the official cause of death was not disclosed, Mintz says Goldsmith checked herself into another hospital on New York's Upper East Side for "personal, elective plastic surgery" on the morning of Jan. 7 and "something went wrong" during the administration of the anesthesia. She was then taken to Lenox Hill later that same day. Some reports say Goldsmith may have suffered a heart attack.

"She clearly died from injuries associated with the anesthesia problem," says Mintz. "It's very sad. The whole thing is just terrible."

Goldsmith recently completed two new novels -- "Dumping Billy" and "Casting Off" -- and was preparing to promote both this year. "Dumping Billy" is to be published in May.

"They are two of the strongest books she's ever written," says friend and literary agent Nick Ellison. "She is a woman who was coming back into a wonderful, wonderful place in her life."

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