I'm aware of two serious incidents, but not life-threatening.
One, a young child put a rubber tire on their finger like a ring and went to sleep. This restricted bloodflow and caused swelling. IIRC, an ER visit was necessary but there was no lasting damage.
Another, a child removed a piece using their teeth, and accidentally bit through the element, which stuck to their teeth necessitating oral surgery.
I know multiple children have had bricks stick to their teeth. Always teach your children to use a brick separator or an adult, and never use their mouth or utensils (knives/forks) to pull pieces apart.
As for small parts, you should generally be safe if you follow the age guidelines. Sets with choking hazards are labeled as such.
To my knowledge, there have been no reports of fatal incidents involving LEGO toys, nor invasive surgeries.
DUPLO toys meet very high safety standards for younger children, if you're concerned. They're designed to withstand a great deal of force to prevent breakage (you could probably run them over and only get scratches), and are suited for infants and toddlers to generally handle safely.