Death of Florida plastic surgeon's wife under investigation after procedures at husband's practice

PENSACOLA, Fla. − The death of a Florida plastic surgeon’s wife is under investigation after she experienced multiple medical complications while undergoing several procedures at his office.

Hillary Brown was receiving procedures on Nov. 21 from her husband Dr. Ben Brown at Restore Plastic Surgery in Gulf Breeze when she seized and went into cardiac arrest, according to an emergency response report and her family.

After a week of being in a coma, her family said she was taken off life support because she had gone without oxygen to her brain for too long and her organs were donated. The death is being investigated by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Hillary Brown, 33, was the mother of three young children by a previous marriage. She and her husband, 40-year-old Ben Brown, had been married for about two years. While Ben Brown faces previous malpractice lawsuits, her parents are left wondering what might have happened to their daughter.

What happened during Brown's death? Cause under investigation

Ben Brown called 911 from Restore Plastic Surgery office around 4:15 p.m., on Nov. 21, according to a Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office incident report viewed by Pensacola News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.

The emergency call notes indicated a female patient was in cardiac arrest after potentially being overmedicated.

“I interviewed the medical technician (name redacted) who advised the patient is Hillary E. Rogers Brown, who is currently Dr. Brown’s spouse,” a deputy wrote. “Hillary Brown was in the process of several surgical procedures when she experienced several seizures and then went into cardiac arrest.”

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office "frequently (conducts) death investigations when the death was unexpected or the death occurs under unusual circumstances," spokesperson Jillian Durkin said in a statement regarding Hillary Brown’s death.

“The cause and manner of death is pending the receipt of the autopsy protocol from the District One medical examiners office. The autopsy protocol typically takes several months as it usually is dependent on extensive laboratory and toxicology tests as well as the information gathered by our Major Crimes detectives concerning the circumstances of the death,” Durkin said.

Hillary Brown's family devastated and looking for answers

Hillary Brown died Nov. 28 following a procedure performed by her husband, Dr. Ben Brown, in his office at Restore Plastic Surgery in Gulf Breeze a week earlier.
Hillary Brown died Nov. 28 following a procedure performed by her husband, Dr. Ben Brown, in his office at Restore Plastic Surgery in Gulf Breeze a week earlier.

Hillary Brown's parents, Marty and Dixie Ellington, were shocked and devastated about the death of their daughter. They arrived at the hospital when Hillary was still in a coma after a frantic call from Ben Brown telling them to come from their home in Texas right away.

Her parents said she was “full of fire and energy” since she was a girl, and are left wondering how she was here one day and gone the next.

Marty Ellington said that Ben Brown told him that he was out of the medication they typically use, so he used something different. Ellington was left wondering why there was not more staff or equipment present to utilize in case of an emergency.

“We want answers,” said Marty Ellington. “We haven’t been given answers. If it’s a mistake, it was a mistake, but it doesn’t bring my daughter back, you know. I don’t want his money. I don’t want anything. All I want is an answer because I think that we owe that to my daughter.”

In a social media post from Nov. 24, Ben Brown wrote about his wife’s coma.

“We need prayers for a miracle. Hillary had a cardiac arrest on Tuesday afternoon,” he wrote. “We called 911 and started CPR. Her heart came back but her brain is not doing well...Hillary Ellington Brown you are my soulmate, my world, my everything. Please come back. Please!”

Practice faces previous malpractice lawsuits

Ben Brown's practice, Restore Plastic Surgery, has two malpractice lawsuits open against it, though only one lists Ben Brown as a defendant.

In that case, plaintiffs Wendy and William Carden allege that Ben Brown used "foreign materials" in a post-mastectomy reconstructive breast surgery without Wendy's consent in 2018, causing infection and sepsis at the surgery site.

The suit also accuses Ben Brown of "negligently failing to periodically monitor the position of the upper extremities," claiming that Wendy Carden suffered nerve damage and other permanent injury due to the extension and position of her arms during the prolonged surgery.

The case is still ongoing in Escambia County Circuit Court.

Ben Brown's family says 'mistruths' circulating online

Public relations firm Red Banyan provided a statement on behalf of Ben Brown's family Thursday, saying "his deep grief and shock is only compounded by many mistruths circulating online and in the media."

“Ben is completely devastated by the sudden loss of his loving wife Hillary, and is desperately trying to understand how to live one day, never mind a lifetime without her by his side," the statement read.

It also stated that Ben Brown was performing "minor and routine" services during Hillary Brown's medical emergency, all medical protocols were followed, and additional medical staff were present at the time of the procedures.

"Our lives have been permanently upended by the loss of Hillary and we will forever keep her in our hearts.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hillary Brown: Florida woman's death investigated after procedures