Woman advises against medical tourism after waking up to unwanted implants following surgery
SEATTLE – For a Washington woman, a trip to Mexico for elective cosmetic surgery turned into a nightmare. She tells FOX 13 the medical facility performed the wrong surgery, then demanded more money and held her at the facility, until she and her daughter paid.
Kimberly McCormick says she didn’t want breast implants, but woke up with them after the surgery. She’s sharing her experience to warn others about the dangers of medical tourism.
“The care was horrible, and I’ve been disfigured, and now I’m going to have to go under more surgery,” she said.
Kimberly gets emotional when recounting her surgery in Tijuana. She went to the same facility in Mexico for successful weight-loss surgery around 6 years ago. In late October, she went back for a breast lift and to remove the loose skin on her arms, thighs and stomach that remained after the weight loss. However, she says things didn’t go as planned.
“When I woke up my chest was really sore, and I just started bawling,” she said.
After realizing she’d been given unwanted implants, Kimberly alerted a medical coordinator, who suggested that she had, at some point, asked the doctor for them.
“She said, ‘You told him you wanted a full C’, and I said, ‘No, I would never say that, not ever’.”
Kimberly says she also had an unwanted “Brazilian Butt Lift”. The surgeon also failed to remove the loose skin under her arms and on her thighs, as she had requested. In addition, she said her room was “filthy” and she was having trouble breathing and had developed a severe infection.
“I said, ‘What happened to my mother?’,” said Misty Ann McCormick, Kimberly’s daughter.
Misty Ann says after shouting in the hallway of the facility for answers, she was physically pushed out by armed security.
“Inside I’m thinking, my mom’s up there, and I can’t leave her,” said Misty Ann. “I get to the door, and he pushes me hard, and there is this cement ramp and I just go flying.”
“I was just afraid I was going to die right there, and she wouldn’t have known,” said Kimberly.
Later, the two said they were strong-armed into paying $2,500 more than the pre-paid, agreed upon, price, due to what staff told them was a longer stay.
“She said, ‘Well, you don’t have to pay, but we can put you in prison’. I can’t go to prison with 500 stitches,” said Kimberly.
” I don’t know what they charged me for, but it was $2,500 dollars. They actually took my card from me, the big goon guy, and gave it to somebody else and said run it, $2,500, and then they threw it back on my bed,” said Kimberly. “They looked at the coordinator and said, ‘Get her out of here’. It was that quick.”
In order to leave the hospital, Kimberly said she was also pressured to sign paperwork first that suggested that she authorized the unwanted surgery.
At the nearby hotel, the two claim they were followed and were forced to pack up quickly and loaded into a van for transport across the border. They were dropped off in San Diego where Kimberly went to the ER after checking into a hotel there, and was treated for her infection with antibiotics.
“I think I’m lucky that I’m here. I’m lucky the damage isn’t any worse,” said Kimberly. “However, I’m looking at another surgery because the implants they put in are so big. I don’t have enough skin to enclose them. They are not healing.”
Kimberly is also getting treatment now from local doctors now that she has returned home to King County.
Public health experts say the best advice is to get information on the quality of the care, practitioner training and regulatory structures in the country that you are heading to beforehand.
“Are you going to get what you think you are going to get, or are you going to get something else, or is it not going to get as good as you hope?,” said Aaron Katz, Principal lecturer emeritus at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
Misty Ann says she has to help dress her mother’s wounds twice a day until Kimberly can get in for her scheduled appointment for wound care. Misty Ann says she’s also paid more than $1,000 out of pocket for medical supplies including compression wraps for her mother.
“Please don’t go. The few thousand dollars you are going to save is not worth it,” said Misty Ann.
Kimberly says her pets are keeping her calm for now as she focuses on what she needs to do to remove the implants and heal from the infection. Her advice is to stick closer to home when considering medical procedures.
“I don’t care how enticing they make the offer, don’t do it,” she said. “Because, the end result is not going to be something you are happy with.”
FOX 13 talked to the FBI, they said that in this situation, they would ask people to contact their bank to find out what, if any, recourse they may have. Also, people can file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
Misty Ann says she has reached out to the FBI.