The father of a young woman who died after travelling to Turkey for gastric sleeve surgery says he is ‘totally lost’ and ‘torn apart’ after losing his daughter.
Derry mother-of-four Shannon Meenan Browse was just 32 years old when she died last month following complications from the surgery.
She had travelled to Turkey around 18 months previously and became sick almost immediately upon her return.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, her father Shane and brother Connaith appealed to anyone thinking about travelling abroad for gastric surgery to think about the risks – and the lack of supports back home should anything go wrong.
Shane said the whole family is devastated two weeks after Shannon’s death.
“I’m torn apart, just torn apart,” he said. “I'm just totally lost.”
“The whole family's the same and my wife's the same, totally lost, totally heartbroken."
Shane said he has visited Shannon’s graveside every night and day since she was laid to rest.
He said the whole family now wants to make everyone in Ireland aware of the risks of travelling for surgery to “make sure this never happens to anybody else”.
'No doctors would listen'
He said Shannon was sick the day she came home from Turkey.
“She couldn't keep no vitamins down, she couldn't keep no nutrition down, she couldn't do nothing,” he said.
“She just kept throwing everything up.
“We tried to get her help here. We couldn't get her help nowhere here. No doctors would listen to us at all about trying to get her help.
“So as time went on, Shannon gets sicker and sicker. Her teeth actually rotted in her head, with the acid from the vomit that was coming up her mouth all the time.”
Towards the end, Shannon was in so much pain that the family called an ambulance and she was rushed into intensive care.
She was placed on life support for around five weeks before her organs started shutting down.
“We got the phone call to come over, and they … basically told us that there was nothing they could do for Shannon,” said Shane. “Shannon was dying. She passed away at 9:06pm the same night.
Eight Irish people have died after travelling abroad for surgery in the last year, according to the Department of Foreign affairs – including three who travelled for gastric surgery.
He warned anyone considering travelling for surgery that there is no aftercare available at all if anything goes wrong.
“That goes for fellas and girls,” he said. “They don't realise the dangers.
“They need to look before they jump because as soon as they jump there is no help here for them once they come back from Turkey or wherever they get it done.
“There's no aftercare help for them at all.”
'Taking your life in your own hands'
Shane says anyone who travels for surgery is taking their life into their own hands.
“Everything's broadcast about all the good parts of it but nothing is broadcast about all the bad parts,” he said.
“There's not a hub open to anywhere to help people or an advice centre or anything for anybody who goes to get them things done.
“Basically, you go for it, you went for it yourself, you done the damage, you live with it. That's basically what it is back here. They don't want to know you.”
Shannon’s brother Connaith said her eldest son is “absolutely heartbroken” after her death.
Tiernan is 14 and when Shannon passed, I've never heard a boy cry as much as when it actually happened,” he said.
“They shouldn't never have had to experience that, especially so young and Shannon was so young.
“He doesn't know what to do,” he continued. “He hasn't left the room.
“He’s quiet as it is and he’s even more quiet now, and the effect alone on the family alone, is devastating because Shannon lost her life but for them to grow up without a mother now, there is the impact too in the long term also.”
'It shouldn't be that easy
He said there should be stronger regulations in place regarding travelling for surgery.
“It shouldn't be that easy to go and just jump on a flight for somebody to give you a sleeve like that,” he said.
“There should be a lot more procedures put in place and it should be a lot harder to get things like that.
“People should be more aware on exactly what really could happen.”
You can listen back here: