It’s fairly common for Americans seeking discounted plastic surgery to travel outside the US. By traveling abroad, patients can save up to 80 percent for plastic surgery, depending on the procedure and country.
While many Americans would never consider going overseas for a knee replacement, they don’t hesitate as much with cosmetic surgery. The drawbacks, however, can be dangerous. Take a look at what happened to the woman in the following story…
When 36-year-old Laura Avila, of Dallas, Texas, decided she wanted a nose job, she hopped on a plane to Mexico for the procedure. The procedure’s cost in Mexico is around a third of what it would cost in the US.
She booked an appointment for the rhinoplasty procedure on October 30, 2018, at the Rino Center in Juarez, Mexico. Avila’s supportive fiance, Enrique Cruz, traveled with her to be by her side for the big operation.
From the moment they arrived at the surgery center, the nightmare began even before the procedure. Avila was administered anesthesia via her spine and the anesthesia traveled to her brain, instead of downward throughout her body, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
Within moments, Avila went into cardiac arrest and hospital officials were forced to place her into a medically induced coma to prevent further brain damage. While this was happening, her fiance was not informed about the severity of the situation.
Cruz told WFAA, “I was kind of getting upset and worried because they would not let me see her or anything.” For eight hours, she laid in a room and Cruz was only told that her blood pressure had dropped and they couldn’t perform the operation.
“They injected anesthesia in her spine at the clinic and instead of flowing down her body, it went into her brain which caused severe swelling,” said Avila’s sister Angie. Eventually, a doctor from the Juarez hospital was called to the clinic and Cruz said he wanted Avila moved to the hospital immediately.
“That’s when they told us, ‘oh, by the way, she had a cardiac arrest,’” said Cruz. Avila then spent four days in a Mexican hospital as her family fought to move her to a hospital in the US. Hospital officials in Mexico refused to sign her transfers papers until the family paid the bill.
“The hospital basically held us hostage because we wouldn’t pay the full amount,” said the sister. They were finally able to get her taken by ambulance to a hospital in El Paso, but they didn’t have the critical medical records they needed.
Hours later, doctors shared the grim news with the family. “They say she suffered severe brain damage so much that she will never be our Laura again,” said Angie. The family was then given the choice to take her off life support or put feeding and breathing tubes in to keep her alive.
“They told us she could never be able to walk or eat for herself again or speak,” said Angie. The family continued to pray for a miracle and Cruz said, “really we want a second opinion.” They desperately wanted to transfer Avila to another hospital but the family said that three major hospitals in Dallas have turned them away.
Even though she is a Dallas resident, they refused to take her because she has no insurance. Angie Avila set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for her sister’s medical expenses. “It is with a heavy heart that I request your prayers and assistance in this great time of need. My sister Laura Avila has endured a tragedy that has been very heavy on our family,” Angie wrote.
A Woman Who Exudes Life
“If you know or have met Laura, you know she gives us all life. Laura exudes love, life, laughter, joy, selflessness, enlightenment, passion, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, wisdom, and so much more,” she added. “Without Laura, I would not be where I am today. She is my sister, a second mom to me, my best friend, and my #1 fan.” Thanks to the GoFundMe, Angie was able to raise $81,710 on behalf of her sister.
Unfortunately, despite the generous donations, Avila’s health was rapidly declining. Desperate for a second opinion on her condition, the family wanted Avila transferred to the Parkland Medical hospital in Dallas. But, they have “denied her a second time, despite the fact that it is a public hospital and she is a Dallas resident who pays taxes.”
After they moved Avila across a border to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, Angie informed family and friends that her sister had passed away. “My heart aches, and I truly don’t know how or if I’ll ever overcome this pain,” Angie wrote. “I’m kind of numb right now with everything that is going on and trying to be strong for the family,” Cruz said.
Justice For Laura
“This morning my tiny dancer passed to the other side. I knew it was coming but it still hit me unexpectedly … My next mission is justice for Laura. After paying all the hospital bills and giving some financial support to her family, I will tenaciously be pursuing the lawsuit against the criminals that killed her,” Cruz added.
Memorial Service In Tulum, Mexico
Cruz told a CBS affiliate that he and Avila’s family have “already hired some attorneys. … We’re after the negligence and now murder.” Cruz also planned memorial service in Tulum, Mexico, where the couple was supposed to wed and he will also spread her ashes there. “The ocean of Tulum [is] where we first fell in love … She loved to sing. She loved to dance.”
Cross-Border Discount Surgery
The family’s attorney, Larry Friedman, urged others to think about Avila before traveling to Mexico to save money on medical procedures. “So that her death is not in vain, people should think of Laura before they look for cross-border discount surgery,” Friedman told WFAA.
“They should do their homework and investigate the experience, training and track record of anyone BEFORE they sign up. Always LOOK before you leap!” Since her death, CBS News reported that their news correspondent Anna Werner spoke to a prosecutor in Mexico who is now handling an investigation into the Rino Center where Laura was treated.
No formal charges have been filed as of yet, but the clinic has been raided. Since the clinic did not provide Avila’s medical records to the Mexican government, Angie alleged on Facebook that “as a result, they were raided … The documents are under review.”
Large Public Health Issue
Dr. Dennis Orgill, the medical director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital Wound Care Center in Boston, told The Chicago Tribune that people are motivated to leave the country for medical procedures because the cost is significantly cheaper. Still, he said, “Some surgeons in these countries are excellent, but sometimes it is hard for patients to tell the difference by looking on the Internet.”