‘Perfectly healthy’: Jane Kiiza, who died following ‘curve enhancing’ cosmetic operation known as a Brazilian lift, at her son’s wedding
It must have been her proudest moment. Pictured beaming at her Cambridge-graduate son’s wedding earlier this year, Jane Kiiza could not look happier.
Yet just months after this picture was taken, the 48-year-old was dead following an increasingly popular ‘curve enhancing’ cosmetic operation known as a Brazilian lift.
Named after the famously body-conscious and beach-loving country where it became popular, it involves removing fat from the abdomen and reinjecting some of it into the buttock area. It is a serious but relatively routine procedure.
Yet in Ms Kiiza’s case something triggered a cascade of infection that tore through her body, killing her when she returned to hospital just days after the procedure.
Although no official statistics exist, the Brazilian lift is said to claim lives annually in the US and South America, where it is highly demanded by women hoping to emulate the famous hour-glass figures of celebrities such as singer Jennifer Lopez and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
It is believed Ms Kiiza is the first British casualty. At the opening of an inquest, it was revealed that doctors battled to save the mother of one, who was said to be ‘in good health’ before the operation.
Ms Kiiza is believed to have told only a select few friends she was having the surgery. It was to be ‘a treat to herself’, one said. ‘Her son had recently left home and she wanted a “new Jane”. She was ready to start a new life.’
When told the shocking details last night, Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director for NHS England, who led a Government-backed review into cosmetic surgery industry standards in 2013, renewed his calls to toughen regulation. ‘This tragic outcome should awaken everybody to the fact that all cosmetic surgery carries risks,’ he said.
‘The more complex the surgery, the greater the risks. This is why I recommended greater regulation of people performing procedures and the institutions where those procedures are performed. This is a public safety issue.’
Ms Kiiza, from North London, underwent the operation at the BMI Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow on Friday, June 19. She reportedly spent the night at the clinic, and was discharged the next morning and driven home by a friend who claims she stayed with her all afternoon ‘because she was in pain’ despite medication. Another friend said Ms Kiiza texted him saying she was in pain. On the Sunday she told another friend by text that she had had a ‘very rough night’.
According to her friends the following Monday she returned to the hospital. A text to a friend said this was for ‘pain management’. She was then taken by ambulance to nearby Northwick Park Hospital.
The pathologist’s report details her rapid decline: on arrival, she was found to have low blood pressure and ‘tenderness to her buttock’. She was given antibiotics but then ‘went into septic shock’. Sepsis, if not quickly controlled, causes a drastic drop in blood pressure, starving the vital organs of oxygen.
Ms Kiiza was rushed into an operating theatre for ‘debridement of necrotic fat’. Necrosis is the medical term for irreversible tissue death resulting from loss of blood supply.
This condition can quickly trigger more severe complications including blood poisoning, so the dead tissue must be cut away, or debrided.
The pathologists’s notes continue: ‘… the plan was to return the patient to theatre for another debridement.’ However, Ms Kiiza’s condition continued to deteriorate. Her kidneys failed and despite emergency dialysis, she could not be saved. A post mortem gave the cause of death as multiple organ failure and sepsis. A friend of Ms Kiiza, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘She was a healthy woman. There was nothing wrong with her. It is unbelievable.’
Andrew Walker, coroner for Brent and Harrow, will hear an inquest into her death in November.
The hospital where her operation was carried out, BMI Clementine Churchill, has been hit by scandal in recent months. Last month this newspaper found that executives at the private healthcare provider had tried to cover up ‘systemic failings’ that may have contributed to the death of another patient, James Hughes, four years ago. Mr Hughes, 40, died from a perforated bowel, unrelated to his original knee surgery. Numerous missed opportunities and delays led to his worsening condition not being picked up until it was too late to save him. In 2013, colorectal surgeon Mr David Sellu – just one of a number of doctors involved – was jailed for gross negligence and manslaughter, ending what colleagues described as an ‘exemplary’ 40-year career.
Friends of the doctor claim he was ‘made a scapegoat’ by BMI Healthcare, a private chain, ‘perhaps to protect its commercial position’. BMI chiefs failed to produce at either the inquest or subsequent High Court trial crucial documents that suggested that the hospital’s ‘crash cart’ protocols – procedures used in the rare event when those undergoing routine procedures develop life-threatening complications – were not up to scratch.
The hospital also received criticism from watchdogs the Care Quality Commission last year for inadequate emergency procedures.
Sources claim operating theatres were closed following Ms Kiiza’s death ‘to swab for possible sources of the infection’ but nothing was found and they were reopened.
Ms Kiiza’s surgeon, Shailesh Vadodaria, is said by colleagues to have been ‘unofficially suspended’ by the BMI Clementine Churchill. However, when contacted last week, his personal secretary was still taking bookings for consultations.
Mr Vadodaria, from India, is registered with the General Medical Council and described on his website as ‘one of the UK’s leading cosmetic surgeons’. He has featured in Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies series.
As well as operating from the BMI hospitals in Harrow and London, he has private clinics on Harley Street, London, and in Glasgow, offering everything from breast-augmentation and facelifts to nose jobs and a surgical procedure that creates ‘cute’ dimples in the cheeks.
When approached by The Mail on Sunday, Mr Vadodaria said: ‘This is a tragic case and I would like to express my sincere sympathy to the family for their sad loss. I am co-operating with the inquest.’
The Brazilian lift is an umbrella term for a variety of surgical techniques. All involve fat extraction, known as liposuction, from the abdomen, flanks and sometimes from the thighs. Some of this fat is then reinjected, or grafted, back into the buttock area.
The effect of reducing the waist while increasing the posterior creates the hour-glass silhouette. The painstaking grafting process can sometimes involve hundreds of injections that deposit ‘micro-droplets’ of fat tissue, and often focuses on the upper quadrant to create a lifted, perky appearance.
While often performed across the Atlantic, these procedures are less common in the UK and no official statistics exist.
However, they do account for a growing proportion of the 5,000 annual liposuction cases carried out by British doctors. One surgeon recently claimed to have seen a 200 per cent rise in numbers of women asking for the operation.
Professor Dr Fuat Yuksel said last October: ‘In the past 12 months we’ve had a massive rise in the numbers asking for “a Kim Kardashian bum”. The Brazilian lift is now one of the most highly sought-after procedures we do.’
The cause of death in many reported cases in America has been a lung embolism, or blockage, caused by fatty tissue entering a vein and travelling to the major veins around the heart.
A consultant plastic surgeon at the BMI Clementine Churchill who wishes to remain anonymous said: ‘The more fat taken out during one session, the bigger the trauma to the body, and the greater the risks. If I take any more than three litres, I would keep the patient in overnight for observation, as a dangerous drop in blood pressure is possible. It is not clear at present just what went wrong in this case.’
More than 300 people attended Ms Kiiza’s funeral in July – so many that they spilled out of the chapel.
The mourners, who included her mother, dropped single white roses on to her coffin as it was lowered into the ground.
A spokesman for BMI Healthcare said: ‘We would never discharge a patient who was displaying symptoms of concern. On the rare occasions that an unexpected death occurs after treatment at one of our hospitals we undertake our own rigorous investigation, and apply any lessons learnt, as well as openly engaging with external investigations. However, it is important to understand that where a coroner has called an inquest, it will be for the coroner to determine how the individual died.’
A spokesman for the London Northwest Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Northwick Park Hospital, said: ‘This patient was transported from the BMI Clementine Churchill Hospital to Northwick Park Hospital by ambulance, but sadly could not be saved by our clinical teams.