As Linda Perez settles into what has become her life at home, the questions surrounding her situation continue to fly. How did this seemingly healthy 18-year-old mother end up in a two-month coma following a routine breast augmentation surgery?
Perez went in for her procedure in August of 2013. Near the end of her surgery, the anesthesiologist noted an abnormally low heart rate, and had to administer atropine and chest compressions. Following the surgery, she was admitted to the hospital, where she remained in a coma for two months.
She awoke from the coma in October, and was diagnosed with significant brain damage. Her heart had suffered damage as well, and her muscles had atrophied, leaving her skeletally thin and unable to walk or even stand. In November her parents brought her home, where she’s been receiving round-the-clock care.
She cannot speak, cannot use the bathroom by herself, and cannot eat solid food. She cannot pick up her own son, who, at four years of age, is far more capable of taking care of himself than his once-vivacious mother.
Allegations from the Coral Gables Cosmetic Center (where the procedure was performed) state that Perez did not fully disclose her medical history, omitting a previous reaction to anesthesia during the birth of her son. The family’s attorney claims to have seen Perez’ medical records, and flatly denies there was any history of prior complication.
The question arises, too, about whether or not a breast augmentation is appropriate in someone so young. As 18 is the legal age of consent for medical procedures in the United States, the question is less of the law and more of ethical responsibility. How young is too young? And what are the factors to consider?
Many cosmetic surgeons recommend their patients wait until they have finished having children before considering a breast augmentation or lift, since the breasts will naturally change during pregnancy. However, since Linda Perez gave birth to her son when she was 14, it can be assumed that the pregnancy was unplanned.
The investigation into exactly what went wrong is still underway, and hopefully more information will be brought to light in the coming months. In the meantime, Perez’ mother, Mariela Diaz, says that her daughter is making progress. She no longer needs a feeding tube. She can now move her legs a little. She can speak a few words.
“I still have hope because she is alive and she’s home,” says Diaz.