Brazilian butt-lift surgery death prompts Turkey-UK meeting

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After her death, Melissa Kerr’s family said it hoped others would avoid “cosmetic tourism”
By Helen Burchell
BBC News, Norfolk

The UK government said it would meet with officials in Turkey to discuss regulations around medical and cosmetic tourism, following several deaths.

Melissa Kerr, 31, died at the private Medicana Haznedar Hospital in Istanbul in 2019 during buttock enlargement (Brazilian butt-lift) surgery.

A coroner raised concerns she and others were not given enough information before travelling abroad.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said government took the issue “seriously”.

In her response to a prevention of future deaths report written by Norfolk senior coroner Jacqueline Lake, Ms Caufield said officials from the Department of Health and Social Care would be “visiting Turkey shortly to meet with their counterparts”.

Melissa Kerr died during cosmetic surgery at a Turkish hospital in 2019

In September, an inquest heard Ms Kerr, from Gorleston, Norfolk, suffered a fatal clot that had travelled to her lungs during the Brazilian butt-lift surgery (BBL).

The inquest was told BBL operations carried the highest risk of all cosmetic surgery procedures.

The UK has an agreed moratorium on carrying out such operations due to the dangers involved.

Ms Lake ruled that Ms Kerr had not been given enough information to make a safe decision and said “the danger to citizens who continue to travel abroad for such procedures continues… and I’m of the view future deaths can be prevented by way of better information”.

A mother-of-three died in August 2020 after having liposuction in Turkey and the BBC previously reported how seven British patients died after weight loss surgery in the country.

Ms Kerr suffered a fatal clot at Medicana Haznedar Hospital during the surgery in Istanbul

Conservative Ms Caulfield, minister for mental health and women’s health strategy, offered her “heartfelt condolences” to the Kerr family and said: “It is vital that we take the learnings from what happened to her in order to prevent future deaths.”

She said the government was aware checks made by some countries offering “healthcare tourism… may not match UK regulatory standards” but that “such transparency and standardisation are important to reduce potential risks to patients”.

A prevention of future deaths report was sent to the health secretary to try and warn others about travelling to Turkey for plastic surgery

“It is particularly important that those considering having the Brazilian butt-lift (BBL) procedure are made fully aware of the risks and have time to reflect fully on their decision ahead of surgery,” said Ms Caulfield.

“The risk of death for BBL surgery is at least 10 times higher than many other cosmetic procedures.”

The government was considering how to “effectively communicate” information about the risks of going abroad, she said.

The minister said while the UK government was looking globally at “the consequences of international health tourism… we have a strong interest in Turkey given the number of UK nationals travelling to the country for medical treatments”.

The Ministry of Health in Turkey was contacted for comment.

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