Students and faculty at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama are mourning the loss of a popular teacher who died in the Dominican Republic earlier this month.
Alicia Renette Williams, 45, suffered from blood clots and other complications and died 5 days after undergoing cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic on June 2nd, WKRG reports. Her body was flown back to Alabama on Monday.
Williams was a 9th grade English teacher at Huffman High School for 3 years, according to WRBL.
Family members say Williams went to the Caribbean island to undergo elective surgery procedures. She is the second American to die from surgery-related complications in the Dominican Republic this month.
A New York man died in the Dominican Republic last week after botched liposuction was performed by an unlicensed gynecologist.
Manuel Nuñez, 29, a restaurant worker living in New York City, died after undergoing liposuction – his third – on Monday at a clinic run by Dr. Oscar Polanco.
The Dominican Republic is a popular destination for women seeking breast implants and liposuction because the procedures are cheap and there are less government regulations.
Family friend Dr. Myla Bennett of Ederra Bella Plastic Surgery posts videos online warning women about the dangers of seeking cosmetic surgery outside of the U.S.
Dr. Bennett, a safe surgery advocate, said Williams was an avid viewer who asked a lot of questions. Bennett posted a tearful video on Facebook after she learned of Williams’ death.
“She’s a mother. She has a 14-year-old son. She got her bachelor’s from Jacksonville State University and she went on to get her master’s degree in English,” said Dr. Bennett.
“The thing about the Dominican Republic, it’s a little different than Miami, Columbia and Tijuana, where a lot of the bad things tend to happen. Even to the women who don’t die, a lot of the woman come back and get really horrific infections that are really difficult to clear,” said Bennett.
She said the bacterial infections are difficult to treat and patients often take months, or a year to recover from the surgical complications.
“In a month or so after surgery they’ll start to, all of a sudden, get these vague symptoms and start to get these draining abscesses. Then they’ll be going to the ER here in the United States trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Dr. Bennett. “What they’re getting is called mycobacterium abscesses. And those are a public health risk. They aren’t treated with normal antibiotics.”
Bennett said doctors battle the exotic infections with last-line antibiotics that are very potent and often make patients extremely ill. Last-line antibiotics are drugs of last resort when all other antibiotics fail to treat drug-resistant bacteria.
Rapper Cardi B recently suffered complications when she underwent cosmetic surgery procedures in the Dominican Republic. The 26-year-old mom-of-1 was forced to cancel a series of concerts while she recovered on bed rest.
Last week, Cardi B vowed she would never undergo cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic again.
Dr. Bennett warned women about joining private surgery groups on Facebook that encourage flying to the islands to undergo surgery.
“The women become obsessed with getting their surgery based on the stuff that is fed to them inside those groups,” said Bennett, who never treated Williams.
She said patients should be aware of the differences between cosmetic surgeons, who perform elective surgery, and plastic surgeons.
Cosmetic surgeons focus on enhancing external appearance (facelifts, nose jobs, tummy tucks, etc.), while plastic surgeons are highly specialized doctors who perform reconstructive, restoration surgery, such as repairing birth defects or microsurgery to reattach a severed hand.
Bennett said women should always search the American Board of plastic surgeons’ website to confirm if a surgeon is board certified.
Funeral services for Williams will be held this weekend in Alabama. She will be laid to rest in Georgia.
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