Laura Avila of Dallas went to Ciudad Juarez with her fiancé for plastic surgery to alter the shape of her nose, trying to take advantage of lower prices there.
But staff at the clinic there messed up the procedure, leaving Avila with severe brain damage and initially refusing to release her until they were paid in full.
“Laura is still in critical condition. She is currently experiencing seizures as an indication of brain injury. She had been in an Intensive Care Unit in Mexico for six days before we were allowed to get her back to the U.S.” her sister Angie Avila said on a GoFundMe page. Avila was eventually taken to a hospital in El Paso and was being kept alive by medical machinery as family members tried to figure out what to do next.
UPDATE 11/17/18Dear Family & Friends,Based on the recommendation of Laura’s physicians, and after hours of agony and…
On Nov. 16, Angie Avila said in a statement that her sister was being moved to hospice care.
“Based on the recommendation of Laura’s physicians, and after hours of agony and consideration, our family moved Laura to a more comfortable facility late last night. Laura is peacefully resting and her fate is in the hands of God. Visitation is limited to immediate family and very close friends,” she wrote.
“We appreciate your understanding and respect towards our wishes. Thank you for keeping Laura in your prayers and for all of your continued love & support.”
In a separate statement released on Nov. 18, the family said that Avila’s condition is the result of Mexican doctors being more concerned about profits than healthcare.
“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,” the family said in the statement, which was obtained by CBS.
Angie Avila defended the decision of traveling to Mexico for care, telling the broadcaster that they have relatives in Mexico and frequently visited the country growing up.
“It sounds crazy to say, ‘Oh they went to another country,’ but to us, you know, it’s home. It’s familiar,” Angie said.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans were projected to travel outside the United States for medical care in 2017, according to one study, but Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders, noted that oversight in those countries “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. 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,” the Avila family said.
“If her experience saves one life, then all that she has been through will have been worthwhile.”