A Mississippi family is grieving the loss of a loved one after a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, for bariatric surgery ended in tragedy, WLOX News reported recently.
Markita “Kiki” McIntyre of Biloxi, Mississippi, died on May 6 while undergoing sleeve gastrectomy surgery. The operation is a surgical weight-loss procedure in which the stomach is reduced to about 15 percent of its original size by surgical removal of a large portion of the stomach along the greater curvature to limit food intake. The result is a sleeve or tube-like structure.
The news outlet reported that McIntyre’s friend Francesca Moultrie was supposed to join her before having a change of heart but maintained communication with the 34-year-old before the surgery.
“I talked to my friend throughout the entire process. We talked every day, and she was asking questions every day in the group, so she was very knowledgeable,” Moultrie told reporters. “I asked her how she was doing, and she said she was OK. … I was going to talk to her after surgery around 2 or 3 p.m.” However, around 5 p.m., Moultrie said she received a call from her friend’s husband, who delivered that tragic news that McIntyre had become unresponsive during surgery and died.
“It was very devastating,” expressed Moultrie. “I just want to be a voice for these women about surgeries. Y’all are getting these surgeries, and they are not healthy, and they’re not good for your body. Don’t do it. It was a wake-up call.”
Dr. Donald Balder, a certified general surgeon and founder of the Mississippi Institute of Weight Loss Surgery in Gulfport, is now speaking out. Dr. Balder implores women to “highly stop and rethink your options.” He added, “We go and buy a car, and we finance, and we don’t really rethink twice about financing it, right? But you’re going to go to another country that might talk a different language, and you’re going to trust someone to do a surgery for a couple thousand dollars when you can finance your body for $10,000 or $12,0000, so I think they need to give it a second thought.”
McIntyre’s death was shocking to the 20-year physician, who told the outlet that he’s never heard of someone in the U.S. dying on the operating table undergoing one of these procedures, calling McIntyre’s case “extremely rare.”
However, despite the warning issued by doctors like Balder and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, the number of people leaving the country for “medical tourism” continues to rise, in part to the significant decrease in price for said operations. According to a report from CNN, CDC revealed at least 11 people who received surgeries in Tijuana returned to the states with rare antibiotic-resistant infections.
Dr. Balder told WLOX that the difference in price seems to be the attention-grabber for many, stating that on average, most common bariatric surgery procedures could cost anywhere between $16,000 to $18,000 out of pocket. However, outside of the U.S., a patient can look forward to paying between $4,000 to $5,000.
A GoFundMe has since been set up to help support McIntyre’s children, daughter Serenity, and two sons KJ and Deshawn. The fundraiser has already surpassed its $10,000 goal.