Spotlight on Aussie Man’s Death After Botched Plastic Surgery in Msia

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Inquest of Australian man’s death following plastic surgery that went painfully wrong in Kuala Lumpur.

  • Paid A$35k (RM109k) for two marathon surgeries within 5 days
  • Procedures for tummy tuck, liposuction, upper eye lift, chin tuck, lip filler, thigh lift, chest sculpting
  • Wounds opened, oozing fluid and blood
  • Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, fainting spells

The coroner examining the death of Leigh Aiple, 31, wants a health advisory warning of the potential dangers of travelling overseas for treatment be published.

The story has been highlighted in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) programme today.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), when Aiple booked his plastic surgery holiday to Malaysia, he was told that he could expect to be treated at hospitals with “internationally recognised standards”.

But days after two marathon operations in April 2014, he emailed Gorgeous Getaways, a New Zealand-based medical travel agency, to tell them that stitches on his back had burst open.

SMH reported that a carer who visited his hotel room described it “was in a mess with blood-stained robes, towel, bedsheets”.

Less than a fortnight later, Aiple was dead.

“I don’t want anyone else to risk it,” the Daily Mail Australia today reported his mother Grace Westworth as telling ABC.

“It was totally dangerous. He was high-risk and they didn’t stop.”

It was reported that Aiple had two surgeries within five days at the Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur, following which he could not move, stand, or even roll out of bed. He was said to have paid A$35,000 (RM109,530) for the procedures.

The first surgery involved a large volume liposuction of the abdomen, lateral chest lipectomy, extended abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and inner thigh lift. Five days later he had a neck lift, submental lipectomy, right upper eyelid ptosis repair and upper lip augmentation.

His mother said he complained of shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and fainting spells in his emails to her.

Westworth said Aiple was allowed to fly home although his wounds from surgery had opened and were oozing fluid and blood.

“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’,” Westworth said.

“When I saw the gaping holes I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I could see inside.”

Only a day after he arrived home from Kuala Lumpur, his mother told the inquest she heard a crashing sound coming from his son’s room and found him sweaty, clammy and struggling to breathe.

Paramedics attempted CPR, but Aiple died at the scene.

Coroner Caitlin English has since found that his cause of death was pulmonary thromboembolism – a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot.

Westworth said the coroner also found that the treatment and care Aiple received was “well below Australian standards”.

“The Australian medical tourist will not necessarily be aware of the difference in standards of medical practice and management of patient care,” English was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

The coroner warned of the risks involved with overseas medical treatment. She urged Victoria’s Chief Health Officer to publish a health advisory warning medical tourism patients that overseas standards of care can differ to medical care in Australia, the report added.

An expert report by Professor Mark Ashton, former head of plastic surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said removal of almost five kilograms of soft tissue and a liposuction of 1.6 litres was a “large volume liposuction”, well documented to be associated with significant complications rates, including death and pulmonary embolism.

But reportedly, Aiple’s surgeon Dr Mohamad Nasir Zahari said performing a large volume liposuction and lipectomy was not an uncommon procedure.

Last year, the Daily Mail Australia quoted a statement released by the Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre that said Aiple received “the best of medical and surgical care”.

“Full explanation had been given to the patient prior to surgery with regards to the multiple procedures to be performed within the short time frame, post-operative care and the possible risks and complications.

“All the necessary steps to prevent and minimise all possible risks had been taken including the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (‘DVT’),” the statement said.