Woman dies after liposuction

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A FLORENTINE woman has died after what should have been a simple liposuction on her thighs went wrong. Two other women are in intensive care after receiving treatment in the same unauthorised clinic.

All three were attacked by a savage infection that infiltrated their vital organs within a couple of hours of the operation.

Doctors say that Bernadette Poma, 48, died at the weekend because her heart could not withstand the intense toxic shock. Her husband said he had picked her up from the clinic after the treatment to give her slimmer legs and she had been fine. She felt unwell the same night and by the following morning was admitted to intensive care. She spent a week fighting for her life against what doctors call an extraordinary invasion of bacteria.

"If my wife had been in a hospital or a clinic none of this would have happen," he said, adding that he hoped those responsible would be punished. "My mother was beautiful," her 17-year-old son, Paolo, said. "She didn't need this treatment, it was just to make her even more beautiful".

Friends described Mrs Poma as vivacious and confident; she was involved in charity work, including the construction of a school in India.

The second woman was yesterday still in a grave condition at Santa Maria Novella hospital in Florence. The third was showing signs of improvement.

Police said the most probable cause of the tragedy was that the Streptococcus viridans bacteria was transmitted by the anaesthetic solution, and not by needles used in the treatment.

The doctor who carried out the operation faces possible manslaughter charges. In an eight-hour police interrogation she reviewed the various stages of the operation, explaining that she had administered antibiotics to the three women and prescribed others for them to take afterwards.

Thousands of Italian women, and an increasing number of men, undergo liposuction. But the lucrative market has resulted in a blurring of the borders between beauty and medical treatments, and the Italian Plastic Surgeons Association has warned of the emergence of cowboys. The body says the public must be better informed about the risks involved and it calls for stricter controls on the places where such operations take place.

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