Natalie Cole's joy at receiving a new kidney has been marred by tragedy - her adopted sister died as the star prepared for the life-saving transplant operation on Monday (18May09).
The singer's sister Carol 'Cookie' Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer last week (beg11May09) and Cole was by her sibling's bedside when she received news she had been offered a kidney by an anonymous donor.
And shortly after Cole left to undergo surgery, her sister passed away.
The Grammy Award-winner has been left devastated by the tragic events, according to her younger sister Timolin Cole.
She tells New York Post gossip column PageSix, "Our sister Cookie hadn't been to a doctor in 30 years, and last week she went in and they found a cancerous spot on her lung. They had wanted to start chemo right away, but Cookie said no.
"Natalie was there with her at her bedside at four in the morning on Monday, and she got a phone call from her doctors that a kidney was ready for her. She said, 'What do you mean? I can't deal with that right now! I'm here with my dying sister!'
"And they said to her, 'No, ma'am. We've got to do it now. You've got to be at Cedars-Sinai in two hours.' I told her, 'Natalie, this is God's gift, and you've got to go now. Cookie would want this for you.'"
A representative for Cole described the news as "a tragic coincidence".
Cole, whose father was legendary singer Nat King Cole, was raised with 'Cookie' as a sister, but her older sibling was actually her cousin. Cole's father also died of lung cancer in 1965 when the star was just 15.