Medical tourism brings warnings

DENVER — After successfully losing 100 pounds, Laura Franks traveled to Colombia to save $12,000 on surgery to get rid of excess skin.

There were complications, though, and she found herself alone and scared.

Franks is struggling to recover from three highly contagious infections, so serious FOX31 was not allowed into her hospital room.

“It turned into six surgeries in Colombia before begging them to release me back to the United States … because I was by myself,  there’s a language barrier, it’s scary,” she said over the phone.

Franks was eventually well enough to fly back to Denver in late March, but her doctor found she had developed the dangerous bacterial infection MRSA and two other infections that are considered life-threatening.

She is being treated with powerful antibiotics that she said cost $10,000 a dose, and she needs four doses a day.

Because the plastic surgery was elective, the drugs that can save her are not covered by insurance.

“If things go wrong in another country and they simply want to get back home in the hands of another provider they trust more, that could be extremely expensive,” said Dr. Arlen Meyers, chief medical officer of BridgeHealth.

He said doctors abroad should be checked for licensing and any adverse judgments, but the best advice comes from personal referrals from trusted sources in the United States.

“Whether it is a family member or a friend, bring someone with you,” Meyers said.

He also said the primary care physician in the U.S. should be well aware of plans and even consult with a doctor in the foreign country where the surgery will take place.

For more information on medical treatment abroad, visit the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

GoFundMe page has been set up to help Franks pay for her medical bills.

AlertMe