A Dallas real estate agent died Saturday in El Paso after allegedly suffering severe brain damage from complications she experienced during anesthesia ahead of cosmetic surgeries at a clinic in Juarez, Mexico, according to the woman's family.
Laura Avila, 36, died Saturday according to a Facebook post published by her sister, Angie Avila.
Angie Avila said her sister went in for several planned procedures, including a nose job, at the Rino Clinic in Juarez on Oct. 30. Before surgery began, she suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of the anesthesia.
"They told her fiancé that she would be ready to be picked up at 4 p.m.,” Angie Avila told Telemundo 48. "He arrived at about 3:30 p.m. and they told him they had not been able to start the surgery because the anesthesia had not worked out yet."
Angie Avila said Laura was placed in a medically induced coma "to prevent further brain damage" and taken to a local hospital. After six days in an intensive care unit at a Mexico hospital, Avila’s family transferred her across the border to El Paso where she remains on life support with a grim long-term prognosis.
“[The doctors] said that she is not going to be able to eat by herself, or talk, or walk or even taste food,” said Enrique Cruz, Laura Avila’s fiancé. “She might be able to hear what we’re saying, maybe blink. But as far as being any kind of normal they don’t see her doing that.”
Her sister said medical staff at hospital in Juarez where Laura Avila was transferred to told the family they believed the anesthesia was administered incorrectly. Angie Avila told Telemundo 48 doctors said the clinic had injected anesthesia in her spine and instead of it flowing down her body, it went into her brain which caused severe swelling.
"We are hoping people cannot focus on this being a woman getting cosmetic surgery, but rather gross negligence, and the fact that we were very close to possibly losing a person very dear to us," Angie Avila sad. "So, we ask for kindness and awareness."
Angie Avila said her sister had traveled across the border for the procedure because of the discounted cost. She also said Laura doesn't have health insurance and her family started a GoFundMe campaign to help cover Avila’s rising medical expenses.
Avila’s sister and finance told NBC 5 several Dallas-area hospitals, including UT Southwestern Medical Center, Parkland Memorial Hospital and Baylor Scott & White, have declined to admit Avila as a patient due to her prognosis and because of lack of insurance.
In the wake of Avila’s failed procedure, authorities in Mexico raided the clinic and have temporarily shut it down. No charges have been filed.
Avila’s sister told Telemundo 48 the family has hired an attorney in Mexico to assist them in getting Laura’s medical records. Angie Avila said they fear the clinic would alter the information on her records.
She also accused the clinic of negligence, noting that her sister was left unattended in the operating room for several hours after going into cardiac arrest
"Besides the anesthetist, there were four doctors who did nothing for eight to 10 hours," Angie Avila said. "They left her in a room. I do not know if she woke up, I do not know what time she went into cardiac arrest."
NBC 5 spoke with Avila's fiancé Enrique Cruz on Sunday.
Cruz said the two had been together for about five years, and lived together in Dallas.
"I want people to remember her dancing, singing, and her funny, outgoing personality," Cruz said.
He was with her in Mexico at the time she was getting the procedure, as well as when she died.
"I was actually there when she took her last breath. I was the one who told her family that I think it's time," Cruz said.
Cruz said he hoped sharing Avila's story will raise awareness and close places like this down.
"We don't want this to go in vain. If we can save another life that's exactly what our goal is," he said.
He said they are pursuing a lawsuit against the clinic in Mexico.