Cheap Turkish operation leaves Irish woman like a 'walking timebomb'

The operation in Turkey cost nearly €10,000 less than it would have in Ireland.
James Wilson
James Wilson

22.15 16 Mar 2023

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Cheap Turkish operation leaves...

Cheap Turkish operation leaves Irish woman like a 'walking timebomb'

James Wilson
James Wilson

22.15 16 Mar 2023

Share this article

A cheap gastric sleeve operation in Turkey nearly killed an Irish woman and has left her feeling ‘like a walking timebomb’. 

Leanne had the operation in October 2021 in order to lose weight but has been left with long-term complications. 

Originally, she had hoped to get the operation in Ireland but decided to book it in Turkey when she realised it was nearly €10,000 cheaper.  


“I knew a few people had gone over to get it done,” she told Lunchtime Live. 

“It was intriguing to see that the surgery could be done for a lot less than they were charging in Ireland.

“So, I jumped on the bandwagon to go.” 

Leanne suspected something was wrong when she woke up and was told to put on a surgical gown, while other patients had been able to slip on pyjamas. 

“In the meantime, I was vomiting blood,” she said. 

“The surgeon came up to me and said, ‘That can be normal, some blood can go into your stomach after us cutting your stomach.’”

Gastric bypass surgery A Gastric bypass surgery operation.

Initially, after Leanne returned to Ireland, she felt fine; however, the day before she was due to return to work she collapsed from dizziness. 

Her sister and partner rang an ambulance and she was rushed to hospital in Limerick. 

Doctors told her she had a serious infection and a scan showed she had internal bleeding from her spleen. 

“They had to ring my partner as my next of kin to come and say goodbye to me because I was dying,” Leanne said. 

“They told him I was in septic shock… and they gave him a room because if I died, he would identify me. 

“They were saying, ‘It’s touch and go, we don’t know whether she’s going to make it - we’re just praying that she will.’” 

Leanne has since had her spleen removed but her health has never recovered. 

“I’m like a walking timebomb,” she said. 

She is vulnerable to infections and she has to keep up to date with a variety of vaccinations; Leanne also finds it is painful to stand for too long and often wakes up with very low levels of energy. 

A cautionary tale

Dr Michael Crotty thanked Leanne for going public with her story and said it would serve as a warning to others who are considering going abroad for healthcare. 

“It’s very difficult to know the quality of the hospital,” he said. 

“Some clinics might be very reputable centres but others are not.

“We’re seeing in acute hospitals around the country, people being admitted with complications. 

“Some of the clinics, for what they’re charging for the procedure, they couldn’t possibly be able to afford the equipment and number staplers and devices that are required - that’s why people are having leaks and complications.” 

In 2022, Minister of State Frank Feighan said it was a matter of “sincere regret” that HSE patients who are referred to the bariatric surgery service wait on average five years for a first appointment. 

Main image: An operation taking place. Picture by: 

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