In 2004, Dr. Mehmet Oz, of Oprah fame, performed a heart transplant on Manhattanite Isel Pineda. Earlier this year, the 51-year-old woman died of cardiac arrest at the hands of Dr. Oleg Davie, an internist who gave her SmartLipo.
According to the New York Post, “Cardiac patients are considered off limits for cosmetic surgery because the anesthesia can make the heart overload, beat rapidly or shut down.”
The Post goes on to say that Pineda’s boyfriend found medical records in her purse telling Davie about her condition; however, Davie claims ignorance. In fact, the patient history chart he gave Pineda’s lawyers not only fails to mention heart issues, it says she was never hospitalized. He noted the scar on her chest as skin surgery to remove a cyst, according to the Post.
Meanwhile, the public “basic information” section of Pineda’s Facebook page reads, “I'm a surviving heart transplantee recipient and I give my thanks to my surgeon Mehmet Oz and of course, my heart's original owner.”
“Anyone who met Isel knew she was a heart-transplant patient. She wore that label proudly,” the family’s lawyer reportedly told the media.
Several women have filed malpractice suits against Davie over burns and disfigurement in the past, according to the Post. He was fined $100,000, placed on probation for three years, and should not have performed liposuction on Pineda.
Pineda allegedly found Davie via an online ad pitching the procedure at a discount. Now seems like a good time to reiterate the tips we shared last month on how to choose a plastic surgeon:
- Make sure the plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Check out the American Board of Medical Specialties website. Note that board-certified plastic surgeons have to partake in continuing medical education and pass a written test every 10 years.
- Check the surgeon's record for medical malpractice claims on your state’s medical board site, like http://www.med.ohio.gov/.
- Ask the surgeon if he or she has hospital privileges, because hospitals do background checks. As Dr. Rod Rohrich, past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons told CNN, "If they don't have hospital privileges, that's a huge red flag.”
- Ask questions. Your state’s medical board website will provide a list, but the internet is full of forums, medical websites, and the like. Do your research.
- Don’t choose a surgeon because he seems like he cares. Doctors are supposed to care. And, of course, plastic surgeons make thousands of dollars per procedure. Money is a great motivator.