HOUSTON—Two local women wanted to save money on plastic surgery, so they went to Mexico.
However, their trip cost them more than they could have imagined.
“Hi, my name is Mimi Valdez, and this is my first time to the Jerusalem Hospital. I’m very excited,” one of the women said in a YouTube video shot in Tijuana, Mexico.
Valdez was excited, because she could not wait to reshape her body after losing 130 pounds.
“You’re tired. It’s heavy, it’s loose skin and it’s just hard to live like that,” Valdez said.
Valdez and her niece, Chrissy said they chose Hospital Jerusalem in Tijuana, because doctors there promised the work would be done for $5,000. They thought they had found the perfect place.
“Your happiness is right around the corner,” a man said in a video on the hospital’s website.
But the Houston women said nothing could have been further from the truth. They sent KHOU 11 News some graphic photos to help prove their point.
“Immediately after the bandages were removed, and I took a look in the mirror at my breasts, I had skin hanging out of the incisions,” Chrissy said.
Chrissy, who that her last name not be revealed, had lost 150 pounds. The mommy makeover she wanted so badly was a disaster. Valdez also complained saying her tummy tuck left her disfigured.
Two weeks after their surgeries, both women were having major medical problems.
“When I went to the hospital, they said we don’t know if we can save her,” Valdez said.
KHOU 11 News tried calling Hospital Jerusalem for a response.
“We can’t acknowledge if a patient was in the hospital. We decline based on the Patient Privacy Act,” Ivan Arafat, spokesman for Jerusalem Hospital, said in a statement released to KHOU 11 News.
The women said the clinic, located in a strip center, did not look like the hospital on the website. They said surgeries were being performed 24 hours a day.
“I was already there. I knew I wasn’t going to get my money back and I made a very, very wrong decision to go through with it. And I should have listened to my intuition but I didn’t,” Valdez said, when asked why she went through with the procedure after noticing the red flags.
Valdez and Chrissy are by no means alone. A group called Patients Beyond Borders estimates that last year anywhere from 200,000 to more than a million people traveled to Mexico to have procedures done.
Patients Beyond Borders said people should look for a clinic’s seal which will prove whether or not the facility has met strict international medical standards.
Foreign doctors are fighting more than ever to get patients from the United States by offering medical procedures at a lower price.
“General speaking the surgeon who is providing a deeply discounted fee is not the surgeon who is well qualified,” Dr. Christopher Patronella, president of the Houston Plastic Surgery Association, said.
Valdez and Chrissy did a lot of research before risking their lives in Mexico. Now they say the clinic won’t even acknowledge they were patients.
“Many times I said ‘Why did I do this?’ I should have saved enough money and had it done with a doctor in Texas” Valdez said.
The women have no legal recourse. They just want to tell their story, and perhaps save a life.