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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Anthony France

Warning as seven Britons die after having Turkey weight loss surgery

Seven British patients who travelled to Turkey for weight loss surgery died after operations there, an investigation has warned.

Others returned home with serious health issues having had 70 per cent of their stomachs removed in gastric sleeve operations.

Turkey has long been known to offer affordable cosmetic surgery options for Britons – with the average cost of an “all inclusive” package being £3,076, including five-star hotels, transport and food.

In the UK, a same gastric sleeve to treat morbid obesity is between £7,000 and £11,000.

BBC Three journalists spent months investigating the trend - promoted on social media - and revealed seven Britons have died in Turkey since 2019.

The TikTok hashtag #gastric sleeve has had 292 million views in the UK in the past three years.

Advice from the Foreign Office for travellers states 22 British nationals have died in Turkey since January 2019 following medical tourism visits, including weight loss surgery.

The guidance adds it is “unwise to rely upon private companies that have a financial interest in arranging your medical treatment abroad”.

Twenty-two obese British nationals have died in Turkey since January 2019 (PA Wire)

Dr Sean Woodcock, a consultant at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, says about once a week a “very unwell” patient arrives at Newcastle Airport from Turkey and is taken straight to hospital.

Dr Ahmed Ahmed, a leading surgeon and member of council at the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, says he has treated patients returning from Turkey who have had an entirely different operation to the one they believed they had paid for.

One of the seven Britons to die following surgery was 22 stone builder Joe Thornley, 25, who travelled from South Normanton, Derbyshire to Istanbul for a £3,000 gastric sleeve surgery.

Doctors at the clinic told his family he suffered a cardiac arrest, but a post-mortem examination in the UK later discovered he actually died of internal bleeding at the site of his surgery.

His father Mick said: “We tried to ring the doctor back and he just wouldn’t answer the phone, refused emails, everything.”

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