US medical tourist dies after treatment in Mexico


Laura Ávila went to a cosmetic surgery clinic in the Chihuahua border city in October to have a nose job and breast implant replacement. The reason she went was that the price for the nose job was less than one-third of the price in the USA.

According to her fiancé Enrique Cruz, medical staff at the RinoCenter administered anaesthesia to Ávila before telling him that they couldn’t operate because her blood pressure had dropped. Cruz says that he told the clinic that he wanted the clinic to move her to a hospital and that they then told him that she had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Angie Ávila, the woman’s sister, told Dallas television station WFAA that the clinic put the anaesthesia in the wrong place in Laura's spine and that her brain swelled, her kidneys failed and she went into cardiac arrest. After eight hours in a room at the RinoCenter clinic, Ávila was eventually transferred to a Ciudad Juárez hospital. She spent four days there while her family tried to arrange a transfer to a hospital across the border in El Paso. Mexican hospital officials refused to sign the transfer papers until Ávila’s medical bill was paid.

Laura Ávila was eventually transferred to University Medical Centre in El Paso but without her medical records. The family has hired lawyers in Juárez to help them obtain them.

In El Paso, doctors told her family that she suffered brain damage so severe that she will probably never walk or talk again. The family was given the choice of removing Ávila from life support or to have breathing and feeding tubes connected to keep her alive.  Laura Ávila sadly died days later.

Health inspectors in the state of Chihuahua ordered a partial closure of Rinocenter, because inspectors found some irregularities. Neither the inspectors nor Mexican prosecutors are prepared to answer questions on the clinic or any possible medical negligence investigation.

Family attorney Larry Friedman stated: 'Laura was mistreated by doctors in Mexico more interested in luring American consumers to their country for the income generated from the promise of discounted medical services than in providing proper patient care. So that her death is not in vain, people should think of Laura before they look for cross-border discount surgery. They should do their homework and investigate the experience, training and track record of anyone before they sign up.'

The clinic has refused to comment, and the website offers little information as to the experience or qualifications of the doctors.

Enrique Cruz is seeking legal action against the doctors responsible and wrote on Facebook: '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.'



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