A Texas real estate agent suffered severe brain damage after traveling to Mexico to undergo plastic surgery, and her family said her fate is now “in the hands of God.”
Laura Avila, 36, of Dallas, traveled to Ciudad Juarez with her fiancé, Enrique Cruz, on Oct. 30 to get a nose job and breast augmentation, but during the procedure something went terribly wrong, her family said.
At 12 p.m. that day, Avila went in for surgery at the Rino Center, but it wasn’t until eight hours later doctors informed Cruz there was a problem, he said.
When he showed up at 3:30 p.m. to pick her up, Cruz said doctors told him they were waiting for the anesthesia to wear off. As the hours passed, he said they stuck to that same story.
“It was very nonchalant when they told me,” Cruz told InsideEdition.com. “Another two hours, they said, ‘Oh we’re still waiting.’
“After a while, I was kind of upset because they wouldn’t let me see her," he added. "I said, ‘This is not normal, something is happening.’ I started freaking out.”
It was then doctors at the Rino Center called a local hospital, Star Medica, Cruz said. When a doctor from the hospital arrived to check on Avila, he said she needed to be transferred to the hospital immediately. The medical team at the hospital informed Avila’s family she had suffered global brain damage and had gone into cardiac arrest, according to Cruz.
“Doctors said that anesthesia was added to her spine to numb her body but instead of flowing down her body, it shot up to her brain and caused severe swelling,” Avila’s sister, Angie Avila, said. “We have reason to believe that anesthesia was added to the wrong place. It is also possible they used too much anesthesia.”
After four days in a Mexican hospital, Avila was transferred to an El Paso, Texas, hospital. On Friday night, Avila, who is out of a coma but still unconscious, was moved to hospice care. Doctors said if she were to recover, she would have very minimal brain function.
“We’ve experienced 1,000 emotions: sadness, depression, anger," Angie said. "Every day we wake up seems like a nightmare. This whole experience has just been traumatic.”
The family now wants justice for Avila and has hired attorneys in Mexico as well as one in Texas, Larry Friedman.
Cruz, 42, and Angie both said Avila had done her research on the clinic, which was recommended to her by a friend of a friend, and hadn’t found anything alarming.
Avila felt comfortable opting to get surgery in the Mexican border town because their grandparents had lived there when they were children and they often visited, Angie explained.
“We’d love to see the clinic shut down,” Angie said. “We are hoping that these people lose their licenses. I hope they end up behind bars for what they did to my sister.”
Avila was set to get married to Cruz in summer 2019.
“It’s a roller coaster of emotions for me right now,” Cruz said.
“We don’t want what happened to Laura to be in vain,” Angie added. “We want to raise awareness. We want people to be aware when they do procedures like this in another country, be prepared.”
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with Avila’s medical expenses. It has raised nearly $80,000 of its $150,000 goal.
“Now we are just leaving it in God’s hands and hoping for a miracle,” Angie said.
The Rino Center did not respond to InsideEdition.com's request for comment. The center is being investigated for negligence after the surgery, according to Newsweek. Officials reportedly seized Avila's medical records from the facility.