JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Jonesboro woman who traveled to Mexico for bariatric surgery returned home with a rare and potentially deadly strain of bacteria.
Tamika Capone told The Washington Post her doctor suggested she undergo the procedure to reduce her weight and blood pressure.
But she said her husband’s insurance did not cover the $17,500 surgery. Instead, she opted for the same surgery for $4,000 at Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico.
Now, four months later, she is one of a dozen U.S. citizens with a rare antibiotic-resistant infection that has already claimed at least one life.
Capone, according to the Post article, is “seriously ill despite being treated with a barrage of drugs.” Should the bacteria spread to her bloodstream, doctors say it could be fatal.
Ryan Dare, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is treating her.
“I’ve not yet had a patient with zero options, but this is as close as I’ve had,” Dare said.
He said her only option was a rarely used antibiotic that causes kidney and nerve damage.
According to the article, on the second day of treatment Capone’s lips swelled. Her tongue and face went numb.
“I got to the point where I could barely talk,” Capone told the paper.
Dare took her off the medication.
Capone, who has a hole in her stomach that requires daily cleaning and has been hospitalized twice since returning from Tijuana, has incurred more than $30,000 in medical bills related to the infection.
“The wound has not healed, and it hurts a lot,” Capone said. “They told me they’ve done all they could do.”
Earlier this week, the Arkansas Department of Health warned residents who had traveled to Grand View Hospital in Tijuana for surgery needed to get screened for hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV.
“I’m at a breaking point,” Capone told The Washington Post. “I’m so scared. I don’t want to lose my life for this. I don’t want to have my family suffer because I chose to go to Mexico.”