My Surgery Was Cancelled Due To Unscheduled Anemia
When I told a friend that I was going to the Dominican Republic for Plastic Surgery, her face fell.
“Oh, “Lori said, “please be careful,” her face mirrored both fear and concern.
As it turns out, there are twice as many more plastic and cosmetic surgeons in the Dominican Republic as our home base in Puerto Rico.
The problem, as I see it, is that the mechanism to punish bad doctors does not exist in our sister island, the DR. Puerto Rico is nominally part of the United States, so all hospitals are inspected by the Joint Commission. You would not believe the tidying up we all did before the JCAHO, swooped down on us.
Once, they pulled the only chart that we did not want them to see. My poor supervisor at the time, Beth Gage, looked as if she’d just swallowed a very sour pickle.
In the Dominican Republic, the hospitals and clinics are not policed by the Joint Commision, as they are throughout the US, including territories. State boards on our neighbor island
do not defrock physicians, unless they are a version of the Boston Strangler. Even then, it’s a toss up.
At first, I checked out one of the major cosmetic surgery blogs, realself.com. They claim to check out every single reviewer, insuring that that they do not come from doctor’s offices.
Here is a major problem with that notion for those of us who live stateside: Medical Privacy Law. Every time I go to a new doctor or hospital, I must sign reams of HIPAA papers. Supposedly, it is impossible to get medical information from a person. –
How can realself.com be sure that a foreign doctor is not paying their second cousin through marriage on their step-mother’s side a US $20 for a review? Truth is, they can’t. Either can you!
At first glance, one doctor stood out. Dr. Emmanuel Mallol Cotes. Reviewers gushed about him in the hundreds. Did he really do all those surgeries? It is good to ask not only how many procedures a doctor has done, but how many they do in one day. If the number is eleven, run away as fast as you can.
I was so beguiled by this gentleman’s reviews, that I confess I readily plunked down $250 nonrefundable dollars. Afterwards, my husband turned to the everyone’s guru, The Maharishi Google, and found out that this treasure had killed—-are you ready—- Six women over the course of five years.
Surgery is risky. I fully understand this as an RN. You may be able slide in the US after one or even two deaths without getting your medical license pulled. Six? Even with the Good Old Boy doctor clubs protecting each other, I doubt would happen without repercussions in the United States. We also have the Good Old Girl’s doctor network and self-help club. Doctors helping doctors is as common as the cold.
Right after I decided against Dr. Mallol Cotes, I found my Prince Charming in the form of Dr. Alejandro Fernandez Goico. Following my instincts, I booked my husband and I on a JetBlue flight and a very nicely designed AirBnB. We touched down after a scant 36 minutes air time.
Although I had brought blood work done on January 31st, and it revealed a slight drop in Hemoglobin, the blood cell that literally gives oxygen to your heart, I was not worried about alerting the doctor. Both my mother and my younger sister often had a hemoglobin of eleven instead of the female norm of twelve.
After menopause, womens’ hemoglobin goes up for obvious reasons. We all leave our Tampax® behind for good, and believe me, it is good!
My personal hemoglobin number never rose above 13.2. I believe that our family hemoglobin normal is eleven, not twelve. That is both before and after menopause.
However, once in the Dominican Republic, I had some more blood drawn, and this time it had dipped to a 10.2 Hgb. That was an entirely unwelcome finding. Dr. Luis Fernando Goico, in denying my surgery due to my low hemoglobin did exactly the right thing.
While at the hematologist, I met an interesting woman, originally from the states, who had crafted a concierge business for herself. Her patient, from Spain, also needed to see the hemotologist. She did not understand why Dr. Fernandez did not merely hang a bottle of my favorite blood brand, A + before the surgery.
Tell the truth: Would you want a transfusion from a third world country?
Count me out on that one. Remember, years before a blood test for HIV was invented, all blood and parts thereof were not checked; hence, some of the earliest victims were hemophiliacs. Game for almost everything, I shall quote the late Nancy Reagan, “Just say no.”
When Dr. Fernando Goico sent me to a hematologist. I believe he assumed that she would give me an iron infusion, and that would be the end of it.
Unfortunately, this lady must have found me very interesting. She did a physical exam and told me that she wanted to find the cause. I am so tired of being interesting!
However, the Dominican Republic, for good or ill, is the new mecca of plastic surgery. While you investigate this Mecca, do not under any circumstances trust realself.com. They are merely doing what we all do: Covering their back.
I suggest that the only back you should ever cover is your own. If you are in a foreign country and they are hanging blood like my mom used to hang sheets, I advise you to step back a bit and think. There are many, many more evil cells in a blood bank. One of them could be aimed squarely at you.