A 19-year-old woman from Ecuador, who won a beauty pageant in Ecuador in October 2014, died on January 10, 2015 as a result of cerebral edema she suffered during elective plastic surgery (abdominal liposuction) she was undergoing at a clinic in her home town. The plastic surgeon who performed the procedure was on the judging panel for the beauty pageant; he offered a $1,000 coupon as a prize for the winner of the pageant (the beauty pageant organizers offered a car and a tablet as prizes).
The woman was reticent about having the plastic surgery but the surgeon allegedly badgered her to undergo the procedure, and the woman even contemplated giving the prize to someone else, according to her family. The abdominal liposuction procedure, which was intended to reduce the woman’s already slim waist by one inch, began shortly after 8:30 a.m. on January 10, 2015, but lasted nearly 10 hours. The family was originally advised that the student/model had died due to cardiac arrest but was later advised that an autopsy determined that she had died from cerebral edema, allegedly due to medical negligence involving anesthesia.
The woman’s brother stated after his sister’s death, “The doctor insisted on several occasions … and convinced her to undergo surgery. She was thinking about let someone else have it as a freebie but eventually she agreed to have it just to get him off her back.”
The woman’s family claim that she died as a result of medical negligence, which is punishable by imprisonment for one to three years in Ecuador. The death is being investigated but no arrests have been made.
Ecuador’s President is on record criticizing beauty pageants in his country: in 2010, he ordered Ecuador’s Education Ministry to ban beauty pageants in public schools because they have no educational value and they are sexist.
This sad case from outside the United States nonetheless is a stark and vivid reminder for everyone in the United States that elective surgery, even when performed on a young and healthy patient, is always associated with risks and possible complications that may rarely occur but may nonetheless be devastating, or even fatal, when they do occur. Any patient contemplating an elective surgical procedure must perform his/her due diligence with regard to not only the proposed procedure but also with regard to the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the clinic where the procedure would be performed, and all staff and assistants who may participate in the planned procedure.
However, if the unexpected does occur and you or a loved one are seriously injured as a result of a surgical procedure, you should promptly investigate your options with regard to being fairly and adequately compensated for your economic and noneconomic losses and damages.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of an elective surgery that may be due to medical negligence, you should consult with a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your surgical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a surgical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.