A Dallas real estate agent who traveled to a clinic in Mexico in October for several plastic surgery procedures and returned to the U.S. on life support with brain damage has been moved to hospice care late Friday night, according to her family’s attorney. Laura Avila “is now resting in peace and her fate is in the hands of God,” attorney Larry Friedman said in a statement to CBS News.
Enrique Cruz, Avila’s fiance, said he was at the Rino Center in Ciudad Juarez, when his healthy fiancee went in for a nose job and breast implant replacement. Some eight hours later, doctors said there was a problem.
“The only thing that they told me was that they had to take her to the hospital because that, the anesthesia wasn’t wearing off and they did not know why,” Cruz told CBS News’ Anna Werner last week.
Laura’s sister Angie Avila said doctors at the Mexican hospital where her sister was transferred, told them the Rino Center put the anesthesia in the wrong place in Laura’s spine, and that her brain swelled, her kidneys failed and she went into cardiac arrest.
“I just said to myself, ‘This isn’t happening. This can’t happen,'” Angie said. “Because of the brain damage she suffered, she’ll never be our Laura again.”
The family said in its statement Sunday, “Laura was mistreated by doctors in Mexico who were 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.”
Laura’s fiance said he researched the clinic and found positive reviews online. Angie said they have family in Mexico and growing up often crossed the border to visit from El Paso.
“It sounds crazy to say, ‘Oh they went to another country,’ but to us, you know, it’s home. It’s familiar,” Angie said.
A 2017 study estimated nearly 1.5 million Americans were expected to travel outside the U.S. for medical care. In Mexico, procedures can cost anywhere between 40 and 65 percent less than in the U.S. Laura’s family estimates her procedures were somewhere around $8,500.
“People are seeking alternatives,” said Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders. “The oversight in countries like Mexico isn’t up to the same standards as it is on the United States.”
“Laura would not want her tragic experience to pass in vain,” Avila’s family said. “Americans seeking bargain medical services outside the U.S. should carefully examine the services offered, the credentials and experience of the medical providers, the risks involved, the chances of success and weigh those factors against the amount of money saved by crossing the boarders treatment. If her experience saves one life, then all that she has been through will have been worthwhile.”
Avila’s family said they want the Rino Center to be held responsible.
“As long as my heart is beating, I will make sure they pay for what they did and this can’t happen to anybody else,” Angie said.
The family didn’t mention if Avila had been taken off life support as of Sunday night.