Trending Story

Women seeking discount plastic surgery paid with their lives at clinics opened by criminals

839

At least 13 women have died after surgeries performed at cosmetic surgery clinics in the United States with over a dozen more women from across the world hospitalized with critical injuries, including punctured internal organs.

The facilities all in Florida is being operated by four convicted felons attracting patients, mostly women from across the world seeking the latest body sculpting procedures at discount prices.

The facilities are Seduction by Jardon, New Life Plastic Surgery and Strax Rejuvenation, and Spectrum Aesthetics, according to investigation by USAToday.

At New Life Plastic Surgery, and Strax Rejuvenation, a couple of women died after their doctors injected fat into their muscles in a popular procedure known as the Brazilian butt lift, autopsy records and interviews show.

One woman, who left Spectrum Aesthetics with a stray surgical sponge sewn into her abdomen, said she would have canceled her tummy tuck if she had known the operators had been convicted of defrauding Medicare of $1 million.

Most of the women who died – 10 in all – were African-American or Hispanic, ethnic groups frequently targeted in the clinics’ advertising campaigns.

Representatives of three of the clinics – Spectrum, Strax and New Life – told USA TODAY that criminal histories have no bearing on the way the centers are run and that their facilities meet all state safety requirements to carry out procedures.

Jeffry Davis, a co-founder of Strax Rejuvenation, pointed out that his convictions on federal bank fraud and tax evasion were nearly a quarter-century ago, in 1995.

At Strax Rejuvenation, surgeries turned deadly nearly every year.

A 64-year-old woman was given lethal doses of opioids by her doctor during a face lift in 2008, a state malpractice probe found. Another woman died three years later after a neck lift during which her doctor gave her a dangerous mix of sedatives and then failed to monitor her, state investigators reported.

Eight deaths in eight years, according to autopsy and state records. None of them made a difference.

Porche Campbell and Nicola Mason discuss the aftermath of visiting Spectrum Aesthetics, a clinic in the Miami area founded by two partners who had been convicted in a Medicare fraud case.
JARRAD HENDERSON, USA TODAY

A patient, Christina Thompson’s heart stopped twice after plastic surgery. The third time it stopped for good.

Another death center is the Spectrum Aesthetics, founded by Juan Hernandez and Evelyn Parrado  in 2012. .

The duo used to run a pharmacy in Miami’s Little Havana and took part in a scheme to falsely bill Medicare $1.2 million for drugs that were not legitimately prescribed and then keep the money, prosecutors charged.

The two partners closed their drug store in 2013 and moved some proceeds from the business into their cosmetic surgery center, one of their lawyers disclosed in court.

Before Hernandez began serving a 15-month prison term, he was granted permission to keep running Spectrum while on supervised release. His lawyer told the judge it was a regulated business “staffed by board-certified plastic surgeons.”  Records show that was not the case.

The clinic had hired several doctors not certified in plastic surgery, including Osakatukei Omulepu, who had failed his medical board exams three times.

In 2015, Omulepu carried out operations at the clinic that led to devastating injuries. On one day in May, Omulepu punctured a woman’s liver five times and perforated the small intestine of another patient in several places while performing butt lifts.

Donna McRae, 35, a mother from Michigan, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, and Nyosha Fowler, 34, a mother of two from Alabama, was in a coma for nearly a month before regaining consciousness, state malpractice records and interviews show.

“It’s the most excruciating pain I’ve ever been through,” said McRae, a licensed practical nurse. “I had to learn to walk all over again.”

Despite the state launching a malpractice investigation and a local hospital stripping Omulepu of his privileges, Spectrum continued to allow him to carry out surgeries for months, state health records show.

In September, Nicola Mason, the 46-year-old Maryland woman, alleged in a complaint to the health department that Omulepu performed the wrong surgery on her – a tummy tuck instead of a butt lift – leaving her with unsightly scars.

Omulepu told USA TODAY the two women who suffered perforated organs were the “only serious complications of my career.”

However, two years later, while working at a competing clinic, Seduction Cosmetic Center, a patient died after surgery by Omulepu. The cause of her death: fat embolism.

Medical experts say the only way such an embolism occurs is when a doctor injects the fat into areas they are warned to avoid: the deep gluteal muscles. Omulepu says the surgery brings high risks and he regrets what happened in the operating room that day.

Ultimately, the medical board revoked Omulepu’s license in 2017 over the cases of the punctured organs. He fought the charges in a state appeals court and temporarily won back the right to practice.

He returned to work and five weeks later performed the surgery at Seduction that led to the patients death by fat embolism. He lost his license again and is no longer practicing.

Florida legislators passed laws decades ago that allowed the state to discipline doctors who owned clinics and practiced there. They never envisioned that private investors would jump into the industry, too.

There is a gap. No one anticipated that non-physicians would take over clinics and be largely immune to these good laws.

Christopher Nuland, a health care lawyer

That loophole means people without medical degrees can own clinics that break state laws with little chance of being shut down, even if they leave patients dead.

“It’s unconscionable,” said Stevens, a former member of the California Medical Board’s medical review committee. “How the heck can you leave the lives of patients to a medical clinic that is run by convicted felons?”

If lawmakers “fail to step in and help” again, he added, “then, I’m sorry, they have the blood on their collective hands.”

“People are coming here from all over the country for what should have been simple procedures, and they’re dying,” said Flores, a Republican whose district includes the state’s cosmetic surgery hub in the suburbs of Miami. “We don’t want to be known as a place where people come to die.”

 

 

Leave a comment

Related Articles

Billionaire philanthropist Tony Elumelu mulls buying NPFL team

As part of his corporate social responsibility, billionaire banker and philanthropist Tony...

Terry G speaks on Davido, Wizkid, and Burna Boy rivalries, faces backlash from fans

Nigerian music sensation Terry G, also known as the Apako master, has...

Dani Alves pays €1m bail, set to leave Spanish jail

Former Brazil and Barcelona star Dani Alves, convicted of rape in Spain,...

World TB Day: 70 percent of TB cases in Africa now being diagnosed and treated – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that about 70 percent of...

13th AAG: Tobi Amusan wins gold in women’s 100m hurdles

The Nigerian sprint star, Tobi Amusan, won gold in the women’s 100m...

FG approves N12.7bln for mass metering of army barracks nationwide

The Federal Government says it has released N12.7 billion to provide electricity...

Women’s Day: Tinubu felicitates women, vows to prioritise their welfare, rights

President Bola Tinubu has promised to prioritize the welfare of women, protect...

All African Games: Nigeria’s Flying Eagles start their campaign on a losing note

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria started their campaign in the men’s football...

EFCC sets up task force to combat dollarization of economy, mutilation of naira

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has announced the setting up...

How Bafarawa diverted N4.6bln from ex-NSA for prayers, election, acquire luxury vehicles

A startling revelation has been made about how a former governor of...

CBN redeploys 1,500 staff to Lagos

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has redeployed 1,500 staff...

AFCON: Pres. Tinubu says unimpressed with Super Eagles’ performance

President Bola Tinubu has expressed his displeasure over the performance of the...

I’ve not met a man kind enough to marry —Ini Edo

In a candid revelation, renowned actress, Ini Edo, has hinted about the...

Ogun CP visits shot Nollywood actor, Ijaduade, vows to punish trigger-happy cop

Nollywood actor and Director, Azeez Ijaduade, who was shot “accidentally” by a...

Breaking: Actor, Azeez Ijaduade, allegedly shot by policeman in Ogun

In a shocking incident that has sent shock waves to Yoruba section...

Fast and furious actor, Vin Diesel, accused of sexual assault

Vin Diesel, known for his role in the Fast & Furious Series,...

Anyone asking for money this festive season lacks conscience, fear God – Comedian AY

Amid Nigeria’s challenging economic downturn, renowned comedian, Ayo Makun, popularly known as...

Octogenarian actor, Dejumo Lewis, dies

Nollywood community was on Friday night thrown into grief as the news...

I’m lucky to have you as my wife, Lateef praises Mo Bimpe on 2nd wedding anniversary

Celebrating their second year wedding anniversary, Nollywood actor, Lateef Adedimeji, has expressed...

Frank Edoho faces backlash for controversial remarks on infidelity

Renowned media personality, Frank Edoho, is under fire after making contentious comments...