A trip to Mexico to save money on weight loss surgery has led to the death of a 34-year-old mother of three after she suffered complications during the procedure.
Markita McIntyre from Biloxi, Mississippi, died on May 6 in Tijuana, Mexico, while undergoing sleeve gastrectomy surgery, a procedure in which a large percentage of the stomach is removed to limit food consumption.
According to local news outlet WLOX, McIntyre’s friend Francesca Moultrie, who also planned to have the surgery but changed her mind, was in touch with McIntyre before the procedure.
“I talked to my friend throughout the entire process. We talked every day, and she was asking questions every day in the group, so she was very knowledgeable,” said Moultrie. “I asked her how she was doing and she said she was ok…I was going to talk to her after surgery around 2 or 3 p.m.”
However, Moultrie told the outlet that the next call she received was from McIntyre’s husband at 5 p.m. saying McIntyre had become unresponsive during surgery and had died.
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It’s the latest example of why “medical tourism” — or traveling to another country for medical procedures — can be dangerous. In January, one woman died and two others were hospitalized in Tijuana while undergoing plastic surgery.
In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about health dangers that can stem from undergoing plastic surgery in Mexico, which is often cheaper than in the United States. The warning came after 11 Americans were left with antibiotic-resistant infections, according to NBC Los Angeles, most of which were from weight-loss surgeries.
“There are many websites that advertise for these procedures,” Dr. Dennis Orgill, the medical director of Brigham and Women’s Hospital Wound Care Center in Boston, told The Chicago Tribune.
“Some surgeons in these countries are excellent, but sometimes it is hard for patients to tell the difference by looking on the internet,” he continued. “It’s that inability to properly vet international services, providers and regulations that ultimately gives rise to a large public health issue.”
McIntyre’s family and friends have created a GoFundMe to help support her mother and children: a daughter, Serenity, and two sons, KJ and Deshawn. The fundraiser has raised more than $8,000.
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