American woman dead, 2 hospitalized after plastic surgery in Mexico

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One woman died and two others were hospitalized after getting plastic surgery in Mexico earlier this year. All three surgeries were performed by Dr. Jesús Manuel Báez López at Art Silhouette Aesthetic Surgery in Tijuana. Baja California state law allows only certified plastic surgeons to perform certain cosmetic procedures, while Báez doesn’t belong to the Asociación Mexicana de Cirugía Plástica, Estética y Reconstructiva, A.C. (an association of plastic surgeons). Authorities in Baja California are now investigating the death. 

Surgery gone wrong 

38-year-old Keuana Weaver from Long Beach, California, died on the operating table while getting liposuction and a tummy tuck. Her cause of death was revealed as “secondary hypoxic encephalopathy,” a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation. Keuana’s friend, Kanisha Davis, also had the same procedures on the same day with the same doctor. Davis said they weren’t hooked up to any monitors during surgery, and she was released immediately. After returning to California, Keuana began hemorrhaging internally and required a two-week hospital stay. The third woman, Esmeralda Iniguez, was also hospitalized in California after almost dying from septic shock and has had continued kidney failure since.

Medical malpractice law

In the U.S., patients are protected by medical malpractice law and can receive compensation for injury caused by negligence. For example, in some instances, illness may result in patients after surgery due to poor hospital hygiene standards. Necrotizing fasciitis, in particular, is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly throughout the body. If left untreated, it can result in death. A necrotizing fasciitis lawsuit can help patients win financial compensation for negligence in this situation. In fact, after eleven Americans developed antibiotic-resistant infections after undergoing weight loss surgery in Mexico, the CDC issued a warning in 2019 about the health dangers associated with the country’s cheap plastic surgery.  

FBI investigating

“We’re working very hard to make sure that doctors who are practicing without the proper credentials are immediately shut down and are investigated by the Attorney General,” said Atzimba Villegas, state director of medical tourism, about the case. “It’s essential for the entire industry that patients feel safe and are well cared for and get the results they are looking for.” Although several people implicated report being contacted by the FBI, the FBI generally does not have jurisdiction to make arrests in Mexico “except in certain cases where, with the consent of the host country, Congress has granted the FBI extraterritorial jurisdiction”.

As it stands, no lawsuit regarding Keuana’s death or the other injuries has been filed. Gary Davidson, an international arbitration and litigation attorney, doesn’t have high hopes for civil justice in Mexico. “People assume that when they go to a place like Mexico the criminal justice system and the civil justice system are similar to the United States and that is a big mistake,” Davidson said. “Mexico does not have a developed tort law system. The real tragedy in a case like this is that you really have to depend on the penal system in Mexico because the civil system is never going to come. “