OK Woman Nearly Dies After Weight Loss Surgery In Mexico
An Oklahoma woman nearly died after a botched weight loss surgery in Mexico.
For a lot of people losing weight is their top New Year’s resolution.
But there’s a warning for anyone looking abroad to save time and money on a medical procedure.
“They sold it to me as if it was a vacation and it was,” said Brandi Jefferson.
Jefferson took in the sights in Tijuana, Mexico, a dream getaway she hoped would change her life.
“I'm just a normal woman that wants to be healthy,” she said.
The 35-year-old mother of three struggled with her weight since she was 12.
She said she tried every diet, finding none of them working.
Finally, ready to get healthy for her kids, she decided to have a gastric sleeve surgery.
“I didn't want to wait, I just wanted to do it,” Jefferson said.
So, she found a clinic in Mexico that would do it fast and cheap.
“They had me there the first day, the second day you have surgery, the third day you're in the hospital, and the next day you go home,” she said.
On the nearly two-hour plane ride back home to Oklahoma, Brandi knew something wasn't right, but she had no idea her life was in jeopardy.
“I slept a lot of it I mean every bump or anything … I was hurting,” she said.
After 3 days of fever and pain, she went to the ER.
“I was terrified and I couldn't believe it happened to me,” Jefferson said.
Doctors found a softball-sized abscess in her back; the gastric sleeve was leaking.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said.
She nearly did, until she met Dr. Hamilton Le at Integris Weight Loss Center.
“They have all gone to Tijuana, Mexico,” said Le.
Brandi is among 4 patients in two months that Dr. Le has seen with similar complications following surgeries in Mexico.
“If you’re having major surgery, there is no shortcuts, you should really consider accredited centers and really do your homework in where you are having your procedure and make sure the facility is accredited,” Le said.
Dr. Le performed an emergency repair surgery on Brandi 10 days after her failed one in Mexico, and warns others looking into what he calls medical tourism.
“I think it’s been going on for a long time for like cosmetic procedures, but I think it’s on the rise as far as it comes to surgical weight loss,” Le said.
“I feel so much better,” Jefferson said.
After two months of recovery, Brandi is losing her weight and will never forget what she could have lost.
“I didn't understand how big of a business this was. This is a huge business. There's so many women doing this, you don't even realize it until you're in the middle of it,” Jefferson said, “I am extremely thankful to Dr. Lee, he saved my life.”
Weight loss surgery can cost as little as $4,000 at clinics abroad.
That's compared to $10,000 or more in the United States, but Doctor Le said you get what you pay for.