LAS VEGAS (KLAS) –Two women are dead after going to the same doctor for cosmetic surgery. The procedure, known as the Brazilian butt lift, is said to be the most dangerous cosmetic surgery. But families of the deceased patients are raising questions about the doctor.
Paige Hazelton was a mother of two little boys working full-time as a dancer and going to school. After two pregnancies, she felt she wasn’t getting the roles she needed to pay the bills so she turned to the Brazilian butt lift.
“She just saw that other women were getting the surgery done and that it was just everywhere,” said Heather Hazelton, Paige’s sister.
The surgery involves taking fat from one area of the body and putting it in another.
Paige’s aunt, Deborah Mann, and sister Heather Hazelton, shared Paige’s story for the first time with the I-Team. They say in March of 2018; Paige went to Doctor Stephen Gordon for the procedure. While her fiance waited to pick her up after the surgery, he noticed an ambulance.
“Pretty soon a gurney comes rolling out of the side and he gets out of his car, and Paige is on the gurney. There is somebody on top of her,” Mann said. “And he’s running through the parking lot. ‘What’s going on?'”
Paige was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“It’s just really hard now that she’s not here with us,” Heather Hazelton said.
According to the Clark County Coroner, fat travelled from her muscle to her lung causing an embolism.
Just a few months after Paige’s death, a task force comprised of surgeons from around the world issued an urgent warning stating: fat should never be placed in the muscle.
and medical professionals sounded the alarm about the death rate: 1 in 3,000.
Paige’s family is suing Dr. Gordon.
The I-Team discovered that she is not the first woman to die after undergoing a Brazilian butt lift on his operating table. Adriana Mendez-Rodriguez was a 38-year-old single mother of two girls and to Alejandra Lawler, her twin.
“Since she died, I dream about her every single night. We still have that connection,” Mendez-Rodriguez said.
Like Paige Hazelton, Alejandra says Adriana also felt her body wasn’t the same after two pregnancies and booked a Brazilian butt lift with Dr. Gordon in Jan. 2014.
“She said ‘This is something I’m doing for myself Alejandra. I’m not doing it for a man. I’m not doing it to look for someone else,'” Mendez-Rodriguez said.
Alejandra was on the phone with her parents who were in the waiting room.
“I was talking to my mom while my mom was in his office, and then we heard an ambulance,” she said.
Adriana was rushed to the hospital.
“Then all of a sudden I hear my mom scream like crazy and that’s when they declared her dead. And I remember I told Dr. Gordon you’re gonna pay for this,” Mendez-Rodriguez said.
The family sued Dr. Gordon. While Alejandra is not permitted to speak about the settlement, court records we found show it was nearly $700,000. The I-Team also obtained Adriana’s autopsy report which states she died during the liposuction part of the procedure. Her organs were perforated.
I-Team Reporter Vanessa Murphy: “Paige was not aware that another woman had died?”
Deborah Mann: “Absolutely not.”
I-Team Reporter Vanessa Murphy: “Do you think that information like that (previous death) should be more readily available to patients?”
Deborah Mann: “Yes! And that’s why we’re here. That’s why we appreciate that you’re doing an expose and that people will be able to find this on the Internet.”
When we looked up Dr. Gordon on the the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners website in February, two settlements were mentioned: One with Adriana’s family, the other a $950,000 settlement in 1997. It also showed an active medical license for the doctor and no disciplinary action.
But 17 days after the I-Team first reached out to the board about Dr. Gordon’s record, the board filed a four page complaint against him alleging malpractice in connection with Adriana’s death. When the I-Team asked why it took five years, the executive director of the medical board said it would be inappropriate to comment on pending disciplinary action.
“They could’ve done something about it. They could have saved another life,” Mendez-Rodriguez said.
The I-Team reached out to Dr. Gordon via email, by phone, and went twice to the medical office where he rents space. After the I-Team’s second visit, they were told by an office manager to not return.
Dr. Gordon still advertises Brazilian butt lifts on his website, but a woman at his office told us over the phone he is no longer performing them.
The cosmetic surgery center where both women spent the final moments of their lives is now closed.
“This one was our last birthday together in Las Vegas,” Mendez-Rodriguez said.
The families of Paige and Adriana are trying to hold onto happier memories.
“We know what Paige wanted for her boys,” Mann said.
Especially for the children left behind.