Cosmetic surgery: 'Extreme makeover' death sparks coroner's warning to medical tourists

Maricruz Casares
Diciembre 18, 2017

"It was totally unsafe".

In 2014, he underwent two marathon surgeries at the clinic in the space of five days.

Yet five days later, he was given the all clear to fly home after his wounds, which had burst open, were treated.

Ms Westworth picked up her son from the airport, and was horrified at his condition.

"He came off that plane in a wheelchair, I said: 'How are you Leigh?' [and] he said: 'Horrid - I am in so much pain, I can't describe the pain",' Ms Westworth recalled. "I could see inside".

The next morning, he collapsed at his Melbourne home, and died a short while later.

Westworth requested that the coroner investigate the treatment and care that her son was given in Malaysia, and it was revealed to be "well below Australian standards".

She emphasised that prospective patients should be aware of the risks involved with overseas medical treatment.

The Coroner's report found Mr Aiple had several open wounds after the surgery and was in a huge amount of pain.

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English recommends the Chief Health Officer "publish a Health Advisory" that would "serve to increase the breadth of material available to advise Victorian consumers of medical services overseas to be aware that the quality of medical care provided in other countries may not be of the same standard as that provided in Australia".

Professor Ashton told the coroner Mr Aiple would have been treated as a "high-risk" patient in Australia, not as a moderate risk as noted by the Malaysian surgeon, Dr Nasir Zahari, due to being 124 kilograms and morbidly obese.

It was also revealed that the level of anti-blood clotting treatment administered at the Malaysian clinic was "below Australia's recommended levels".

A coroner found that Mr Aiple had died of a blood clot that travelled from his calf to his lung, with the recent surgery and airplane travel contributing to his death.

He said surgeries were often done "sight unseen", as in Mr Aiple's case, where he only had one consultation with the surgeon five days before his surgery.

Professor Ashton said there was no regulation of medical tourism, with bundle packages designed for patients to have maximum surgeries in the shortest period of time, irrespective of risk. An estimated 15,000 Australians each year travel overseas for cosmetic and dental work, according to the ABC.

He likened overseas procedures to "taking a bet", noting that there is no such thing as an worldwide standard of care, and is it hard to find out the level of expertise of the surgeons employed by overseas clinics.

"These companies are putting profit over patient safety".

The 31-year-old died after complications with his surgery.

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