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New Rochelle Woman Dies While Receiving Liposuction In Dominican Republic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A New York woman has died while undergoing plastic surgery in the Dominican Republic, the third such death involving an American in a month.

The Dominican health ministry is now opening an investigation, but CBS2's Tony Aiello reports a grieving family is worried they won't get answers and wonder if others are at risk.

Maxine David's phone is filled with pictures of her sister Alexandra Medina.

"Savvy, smart, vibrant, passionate," David said, describing her sister.

New Rochelle resident Alexandra Medina died while undergoing plastic surgery in the Dominican Republic on July 5, 2019. (Credit: CBS2)

But the New Rochelle resident was also unhappy with her appearance.

David says doctors in the United States told her sister she needed to lose weight before getting liposuction body reshaping.

A Dominican doctor Medina contacted through Facebook, however, had a different opinion, according to David.

"This doctor was like, 'No problem. We can do it. We can handle it. We've dealt with bigger women, so come here. We'll do it.' And it was obviously also cheaper," David said.

Friday, during liposuction at a Santo Domingo clinic, Medina stopped breathing and died.

The death certificate blames a fatty tissue embolism, or blood clot.

Medina is the third American to die in a month while undergoing cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican health minister says a full review will now take place.

Aiello: "The health minister says an investigation is underway. As that process starts, what are your concerns?"
David: "That they're gonna get away with it, that they're gonna, you know, finagle it to it seeming as if it were accidental and that we're not going to get justice."

Doctors at the Dominican clinic say there was no malpractice, just a tragic complication, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns Americans of risks associated with plastic surgery in the Dominican Republic.

Manhattan plastic surgeon Dr. Henry Spinelli has a warning as well.

"There are reasonable facilities in Europe, South America, et cetera, but they are usually subject to the same set of criteria we have here. To indiscriminately choose some place on the basis of finances is a grave mistake," he said.

"Women are going over there for these surgeries, these elective surgeries, and not coming out alive," David said.

David says her sister's cheap surgery came at a terrible cost.

News media in Santo Domingo report the clinic where Medina died had just recently reopened after being closed for "irregularities."

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