NEW YORK (WPIX/CNN) - The family of a 28-year-old man, who died after undergoing liposuction, is deciding whether they want to file charges against the plastic surgery center in the Dominican Republic.
Friends of 28-year-old Manuel Nunez say he just had a way of making those around him smile. The young man died last week after a liposuction procedure inside of the Caribbean Plastic Surgery Clinic in Santo Domingo.
“I asked him not to do it,” said Nunez’s mother.
One of Nunez’s closest friends, Norka Rodriguez was on Facetime with other friends who were inside the recovery area of the clinic and saw Nunez over the phone after the surgery.
“They said it was normal for him to look like he's not breathing,” said Rodriguez of the nurses at the clinic.
Jonathan Bahana was in the room when Rodriguez got the video call.
"He didn't look so healthy. He didn't look well. He wasn't responding to any of their two voices,” Bahana said.
It soon became clear that Nunez had died.
In a statement, the medical center acknowledged his death, saying to local media that he “died of respiratory distress.”
The Dominican newspaper El Caribe identified the doctor who performed the procedure as Dr. Oscar Polanco, who is reportedly a gynecologist and not a plastic surgeon.
“Dr. Polanco killed my child,” Nunez’s mother said.
Last year, a Dominican court ordered Polanco to pay 23 million Dominican pesos to the families of two women who died in 2015 after he operated on them. Criminal charges, however, were dropped due to lack of evidence.
In 2016, the doctor was again charged with manslaughter after a 24-year-old woman died after he performed liposuction on her. That case is currently working its way through the courts.
The medical center Polanco worked at at the time of those three cases was eventually shut down.
"It needs to be something done. Can we get down to business and really find out what's the solution for these cases? Because people are still going to continue to die,” Bahana said.
Nunez’s family says they are waiting for his autopsy results from Dominican authorities to determine whether they want to file charges against the clinic.
The medical center advertises to clientele from the United States on social media. A 2018 ad promised in Spanish to “pay your airfare and seven days in a recovery house.”