23-year-old dies after undergoing surgery for Crohn's disease in St. Paul

Friends and family are grieving the loss of a young man who died just a couple weeks after undergoing surgery for his Crohn's disease in St. Paul.

It's not clear what went tragically wrong for 23-year-old Justin Flascher, but obviously there were complications with the delicate surgery that involved removing several feet of his small intestine.

His friends they had no idea the procedure would be one of life and death -- "He was very smart and a brilliant kid,” close friend Jesse Munos said. “He had everything going for him."

Munos and Flascher, both from South St. Paul, grew up together and spent a lot of time with each other. They playfully dubbed their crew “The Dogs.” Munos was at United Hospital as Flascher’s family pulled him off life support last week where he said a final goodbye to him.

"He was always outgoing, always the life of the party,” Munos said. “He had so many friends just all over. Everyone felt like he was their closest friend."

Flascher graduated from Saint John's University just last spring and had a promising future. He had a job at Northwestern Mutual in Minneapolis where management called  him "a rising star.” He also suffered quietly from Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that affects upwards of 700,000 Americans.

"He was pretty private about it,” Munos said. “I don't know how he felt about it. He kept it from us. It was kind of frustrating. We wanted to see him. We never knew why we weren't seeing him. A lot of times, he wasn't feeling well. We didn't know because he was so private."

Flascher went in for surgery at the end of January where family members said he had several feet of his small intestine removed. It appeared he was on the mend when all of a sudden there were complications a few days later.

According to his CaringBridge page, an open artery led to a significant amount of blood filling his stomach. Eventually there were seizures and his brain was severely damaged during the trauma. He died Sunday morning on Valentine's Day.

Adding to the pain and anguish for the Flascher family, Justin's mom died a couple years ago. Justin’s father told Fox 9 he is just trying to take it one step at a time.

Click here for information on a fundraiser that’s been created for Justin and the Flascher family.