The Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office on Monday reported the primary cause of death for Heather Meadows, a 29-year-old mother of two from West Virginia, who died last week following cosmetic surgery at a Hialeah clinic: fat clots of the lungs and heart.
Darren Caprara, director of operations for the medical examiner's department, said fat particles clogged the arteries of Meadows’ lungs and heart, causing the organs to fail.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Medical examiners reported the secondary cause of death was complications from lipid transfer, indicating that the fat particles that killed Meadows likely entered her bloodstream through a vein during a fat transfer procedure she received at Encore Plastic Surgery on May 12 prior to being rushed to the emergency room at Larkin Community Hospital’s Palm Springs campus.
Fat transfer is a common procedure performed during a so-called Brazilian butt lift, in which a doctor performs liposuction of the torso and then injects that fat into the buttocks area. In 2013, a 51-year-old woman died of the same cause, fat clots in her lung, after a similar cosmetic procedure at a clinic affiliated with Encore, Vanity Cosmetic Surgery in Miami.
The Florida Department of Health, which licenses the clinics and physicians, is investigating the incident, according to a statement the Hialeah Police Department released last week. But Mara Gambineri, a health department spokeswoman, said in a written statement on Monday that the agency could not confirm or deny whether an investigation is under way.
Gambineri said the agency does not disclose investigations or complaints until 10 days after a probable cause finding. “However,” she said, “the department is vigilant in its efforts to ensure the public is protected from unsafe or unscrupulous health care practice.”