American dies in Dominican Republic after undergoing liposuction

Alex Lasker
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American dies in Dominican Republic after undergoing liposuction

A New York man died in the Dominican Republic last Tuesday after traveling tothe Caribbean country to undergo plastic surgery

A New York man died in the Dominican Republic last Tuesday after traveling to the Caribbean country to undergo plastic surgery.

Manuel Jose Nunez, 28, died following a liposuction procedure on his gluteal region by an unlicensed surgeon at the Caribbean Plastic Surgery Clinic in Santo Domingo, the nation's capital, WPIX reports.

The clinic allegedly caters heavily to American clients, with one 2018 ad promising to U.S. residents only, "We will pay your airfare & seven days in a recovery house."

Nunez's mother, Teresa de Jesús Batista Ramírez, told New Jersey-based Telemundo station WNJU that she begged her son not to go through with the dangerous operation — which he had already undergone twice before at the same clinic — but said he ignored her advice and went ahead with it anyway.

"Don't get that lipo, you've already had two done," she recalled telling her son before his death. "'You don't know what to do with your money,' I told him yesterday and he said to me, 'I have a doctor.' I told him 'I'd be better if you give me (the money) so I can use it to eat' and all he did was stick out his tongue and say goodbye."

Norka Rodriguez, one of Nunez's closest friends, told WNJU she was on FaceTime with other friends who were inside the patient's recovery room when she became concerned with his sickly appearance, including his yellowing skin.

However, she claims nurses reassured the group that Nunez's symptoms were typical. 

"They said it was normal for him to look like he's not breathing," she told the station.

Around 6 p.m. the same day as the botched procedure, Nunez died. The facility said his death was the result of respiratory distress, according to Spanish outlet Noticias Sin.

Dr. Oscar Polanco, who is reportedly a gynecologist and not a plastic surgeon, was identified by local media as the physician behind the procedure. The embattled doctor has faced legal action multiple times before, WPIX reports.

Just last year, Dr. Polanco was ordered by a Dominican court to pay 23 million Dominican pesos (roughly 450,000 USD) to the families of two women, 24-year-old Ely Peña and 39-year-old Sara de los Ángeles Martínez Rodríguez, both of whom died in 2015 after he operated on them at the Institute of Weight Loss and Aesthetics of the Body, also located in the Dominican Republic. 

The physician also faced criminal charges in the two deaths, but those were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence.

Nunez's family members say they are waiting for the results of an official autopsy before deciding whether to press charges.

His death comes amid a rash of resort-related deaths and incidents plaguing the island nation.