A 31-year-old Australian flew to Malaysia for a plastic surgery package in Malaysia. Less than 24 hours after getting back home to Melbourne, he died.
Leigh Aiple was overweight and self-conscious about it, so he decided to pay over $35,000 for plastic surgery at the Beverly Wilshire Clinic in Kuala Lumpur, ABC reports. His grieving mother, Grace Westworth, asked a coroner to investigate what happened to her son, saying,
I don’t want anyone else to risk it.
Caitlin English, coroner, found that the care and treatment Aiple had received was well below Australian standards. English added that this case emphasizes the need for people to be aware of the risks they take when they go abroad for medical treatment. She said, “The Australian medical tourist will not necessarily be aware of the difference in standards of medical practice and management of patient care.”
Gorgeous Getaways, a New Zealand-based medical travel agency, claimed that the Malaysian clinic is “a boutique medical centre” with “highly skilled specialists.”
Aiple wanted an extreme makeover. In 2014, he underwent two surgeries in five days, which included a 360 degree tummy tuck, extensive liposuction, an upper eye lift, a chin tuck, a thigh lift, chest sculpting and lip filler. The first surgery alone took 8-10 hours.
Westworth said, “He couldn’t move, he couldn’t stand or roll out of bed after the first surgery.”
Aiple complained to his mother that he was short of breath, had a rapid heartbeat and was fainting. But five days later, he was given the green light to fly home even after his wounds, which had re-opened, were treated.
Westworth described, “He came off that plane in a wheelchair, I said: ‘How are you Leigh?’ He said: ‘Horrid — I am in so much pain, I can’t describe the pain.’” Westworth found Aiple collapsed in his bedroom the next morning. He died shortly afterward.
Mark Ashton, president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and former head of plastic surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, reviewed the coroner’s investigation. The report stated that several open wounds were oozing fluid, that care workers found Aiple in pain in his hotel room, with the sheets covered in blood.
Ashton said that Aiple would have been treated as a “high-risk” patient in Australia, not moderate risk, as classified by Malaysian doctor Nasir Zahari.
Aiple died due to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), when a blood clot in his legs moved to his lung. DVT is often linked with flying. Ashton noted that the autopsy showed the clots happened weeks before Aiple’s plane trip, while he was undergoing surgery.
Ashton said, “Having surgery overseas comes with significant risk as it comes with no guarantee as to the standard of care you will receive. You are taking a bet. There is no such thing as an international standard.”