Mikayla Whitworth, 30, flew to the Czech Republic for the cut-price liposuction and tummy tuck in 2015
A mother claims she was left fighting for life due to botched cosmetic surgery at a clinic in eastern Europe.
Mikayla Whitworth, 30, flew to the Czech Republic for the cut-price liposuction and tummy tuck in 2015.
But she soon began vomiting and was diagnosed with sepsis and the life-threatening flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis after returning to the UK.
She claims that NHS doctors were forced to cut out a 2.4in-deep, foot-wide slab of infected flesh from her stomach, which she says led to the breakdown of her marriage and even left her unable to play with her young son properly.
Mrs Whitworth, from Ashington, Northumberland, also fears it may mean she cannot have more children.
Last week, she began a £100,000 legal action against the Czech firm, Perfect Clinic, and Prague Beauty, the travel agency in Mayfair, west London, where she booked the all-inclusive trip.
She paid £3,250 for a tummy tuck, liposuction, flights and accommodation after ‘ballooning’ to a size 20 following her pregnancy and trying ‘every weight loss program I could’.
She claims that NHS doctors were forced to cut out a 2.4in-deep, foot-wide slab of infected flesh from her stomach, which she says led to the breakdown of her marriage and even left her unable to play with her young son properly. Stock picture
However, unable to afford UK prices after visiting four private clinics, she travelled to Prague because it offered ‘the right price, with the best reviews’. A similar procedure would cost around £10,000 at a Harley Street clinic.
According to court documents filed at Central London County Court, Mrs Whitworth says she was told the quality of surgery and care were ‘the same or better’ than in Britain.
But shortly after surgery she says she developed a fever, headache, a rash and her stomach began to swell. When she told Czech medics she was worried the wound was infected and she might need antibiotics, she claims she was simply told to ‘eat biscuits and drink sweet tea’.
Dr Nino Mchedlidze, who owns the Mediestetik chain of clinics in Prague, said she had seen a 10 per cent increase of Britons year on year
Britons lured by cosmetic surgery at bargain prices
Mikayla Whitworth is just one of thousands of Britons to have joined a growing a ‘health tourism’ boom for bargain cosmetic surgery in eastern Europe.
Clinic owners in Prague said up to 10 per cent more Britons were travelling there to take advantage of lower prices.
Dr Nino Mchedlidze, who owns the Mediestetik chain of clinics there, said she had seen a 10 per cent increase of Britons year on year. Patients from the UK make up the largest group of clients by nationality after Czechs.
Dr Mchedlidze, who trained in the UK, said British clients were mostly women wanting breast enlargements for about £2,800.
Her firm offers to arrange flights, a hotel, airport transfers and even a tour of Prague.
Dr Mchedlidze said: ‘Daily, we receive about 10 to 15 emails from people in Britain.’
She said standards were high in the Czech Republic, with the industry regulated by the government, but added: ‘The system of education for surgeons in the UK and US is better.’
Clinics in eastern Europe can undercut the price of private surgery in Britain because salaries are much lower there.
The Perfect Clinic that Miss Whitworth used says it sees up to ten Britons a month.
Most are women wanting breast enlargements, for which it charges around £3,000. It has also seen an increase in British men flying in for liposuction. Owner Roman Kufa said most of his patients were German.
Surgeons in the Czech Republic have to study medicine for six years and then practise for a further two and a half years to become a general surgeon. They undergo a further four years’ training to qualify as a plastic surgeon and are forbidden by law from practising until they have this.
But an increasing number of Britons are complaining about foreign clinics after having surgery abroad.
Philip Cooper, a travel lawyer at the legal firm Slater and Gordon, said: ‘Unfortunately this is something we are starting to see a lot more of as the market for “medical tourism” continues to grow.’
At a later check-up she was told ‘everything was normal’ and when her symptoms got worse she texted the clinic, but allegedly received no response.
Following her return to Britain, she spent six weeks in hospital.
The mother of one says she suffers nightmares and panic attacks, and has had to have four reconstructive operations.
Last night Mrs Whitworth said she believed she would not survive because of the excruciating pain she suffered at her rented flat in Prague after the operation.
She said: ‘The first day I got back to the apartment I thought I was going to die.
‘I texted the number for aftercare to ask for more painkillers as it was unbearable, only to be told to go to the pharmacy on the bottom floor of my apartments. It took me over two hours to drag myself there to find it was closed.
‘I was having hot flushes and cold sweats, which are symptoms of an infection, just lying in bed surrounded by bowls of my own vomit. I knew something was seriously wrong.’ She managed to fly home nearly a week later, but was rushed to hospital the next day.
Mrs Whitworth said: ‘The surgeon explained that this happens when an infection is untreated.
‘I had gone from having a simple infection that should have been noticed and treated to having sepsis and necrotising fasciitis and fighting for my life.
‘I have not been able to pick my son up. I can’t lie on my front or lie flat – it broke my marriage up.’
In a court hearing last week her lawyer, Andrew Spencer, said the clinic in the Czech Republic was to blame, adding: ‘The procedure wasn’t done with reasonable care, which is why Mrs Whitworth developed necrotising fasciitis.’
The clinic and travel company deny any wrongdoing.
Roman Kufa, owner of Perfect Clinic, told the Mail it was ‘normal’ for complications to happen after cosmetic surgery, but that they affected only a very small percentage of patients.
He also claimed it was more likely that Mrs Whitworth did not follow the post-surgery care plan.
Dr Kufa said: ‘I do 800 operations to 900 per year. Some people, of course, they have complications – it’s normal. If they don’t do everything correctly after the operation, it’s a very big problem.
‘If complications happen our clinic offers everything free.’
He said it would not have been necessary to give her antibiotics and claims Mrs Whitworth did not contact the clinic until two months after the procedure.
The court has given the agency and the clinic more time to formally respond to the legal claim.
Last week, Mrs Whitworth began a £100,000 legal action against the Czech firm, Perfect Clinic, and Prague Beauty, the travel agency in Mayfair, west London, where she booked the all-inclusive trip