The best friend of a Texas woman who died from a fungal brain infection after getting cut-price plastic surgery in Mexico has spoken out about the ‘heartbreaking loss.’
Mother-of-one Shyanne Medrano, 31, of Houston, died from fungal meningitis at a hospital on May 16, 2023 and is one of four Texas women who have died from the infection after they went under the knife in the northern border city of Matamoros.
Her best friend since the seventh grade, Laura Garza, told DailyMail.com that Ms Medrano was complaining about headaches in March after the operation and then died two months later following ‘close to five or six strokes.’
‘It’s heartbreaking, especially when they’re wives, mothers, daughters – they’re somebody,’ Ms Garza said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes around 230 Americans who traveled to clinics in Matamoros this year could be at risk.
And the agency is now urging people to go to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible to be evaluated, even if they do not have symptoms.
Ms Medrano traveled to Matamoros in March to undergo a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) at Clinica-K3
Laura Garza has known Ms Medrano since seventh grade. She told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s heartbreaking, especially when they’re wives, they’re mothers, they’re daughters, they’re somebody’
Ms Medrano traveled to Matamoros to undergo a Brazilian butt lift (BBL) and liposuction at Clinica-K3.
Dr Luis Manuel Rivera De Anda, listed as a gynecologist online, performed her operation.
His Instagram shows a plethora of before and after surgery photos for liposuction, BBLs, and breasts and promotes an offer of full liposuction, a BBL and breast augmentation for 5,000 USD.
It is unknown whether Ms Medrano’s infection had anything to do with Dr Rivera De Anda’s actions.
Dr Rivera De Anda did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
‘Her results were good. She was happy with how she looked and was feeling ok when she went home,’ said Ms Garza.
‘She was just complaining of some headaches, but she’s always had some, so she didn’t think too much of it.
‘Around Easter, she started feeling a little more pressure [on her head] and her eyes were hurting. She started having that pain in her head.’
A Facebook post by Ms Medrano from April 15 reads: ‘I’m in great pain from my head… today I woke up with an excruciating pain in the back of my head, and it’s really keeping me from functioning normally today.’
Ms Medrano then began slurring her words, and doctors later discovered she had had a stroke.
A few weeks after the operation, Ms Medrano was taken to the hospital with nausea, vomiting and fever — all symptoms of fungal meningitis.
She had ‘close to five or six strokes’, Ms Garza said, as well as blood clots in her head.
Ms Medrano went to Clinica K-3, in Matamoros, Mexico. Also under scrutiny by the CDC is River Side Surgical Center in Matamoros. Both clinics have now been closed
Ms Medrano felt immediately ill after the procedure and suffered intense headaches
Ms Medrano died on May 16, almost two months after her BBL.
Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr Ivan Melendez said around nine patients are in hospitals in Cameron and Hidalgo counties.
He said: ‘The numbers, even in our community, are worrisome.’
He added that those infected might not even realize it: ‘It can be very insidious with its symptoms of headache nausea, vomiting and fever.
‘It can take a while, that’s why we’re so concerned there could be people with this infection and still not aware of it.’
Ms Medrano leaves behind an eight-year-old daughter.
The above map shows the location of Matamoros, where the procedures took place. People are being urged not to go there for plastic surgeries
Some 1.2 million US residents travel to Mexico annually to undergo elective surgery at a discount, according to Medical Tourism Mexico, which advertises that patients can save up to 80% on a comparable procedure in the US
As of June 14, the CDC reports six confirmed cases of fungal meningitis detected from samples.
There have been four deaths — two of which are confirmed cases and two which are probable.
The CDC has warned that anyone given epidural anesthesia (injection into the spine to numb part of the body) during surgery is at risk and should go to the nearest emergency room to be tested, even if they do not have symptoms.
The epidural is used in procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation and Brazilian butt lifts, which can be more than $16,000 cheaper than in the US.
The CDC is investigating 172 people who may have the infection.
The clinics under scrutiny are River Side Surgical Center and Clinica K-3 in Matamoros, Mexico, both of which have now been closed.
The patients being overseen by the CDC reported symptoms including headaches, fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and sensitivity to light.
The infection causes swelling of the protective lining around the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said: ‘Fungal meningitis can be life-threatening, and finding infections early is essential for treatment.
‘Public health workers are directly contacting people in Texas who got surgery at two clinics in Matamoros to inform them of the situation and what steps they should take.’
The fungus isolated in the two clinics appears to be Fusarium solani, which was linked to a previous meningitis outbreak in Durango, Mexico, late last year.
According to the CDC, that outbreak, which was also linked to epidural anesthetic procedures, had an almost 50 percent mortality rate with those infections — with 39 deaths among 80 cases.
The exact cause of the fungal outbreak remains unknown.
Health officials believe fungal meningitis can be contracted if medical devices such as the needle used during an epidural or medications such as morphine are contaminated with fungi or if proper infection prevention control practices are not taken.
The clinics may have reused medication vials or used alternative medication to morphine due to shortages, both of which can increase the risk of fungal contamination.
Dr Tom Chiller, head of the branch of the fungal disease at the CDC, told NBC News: ‘There could be some bad actors in that space that are essentially operating sort of a black-market type of morphine business.’
CDC officials are looking into how exactly patients were exposed to the infectious fungus during the surgeries and if any other clinics were involved.
US health bosses have called for the deadly fungal outbreak to be declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organization.