The fiancee of a mum-of-two who died after travelling to Turkey for weight loss surgery has told how they had carefully done their research ahead of the trip. Emma Morrissey was just 44 when she died after a gastric sleeve operation went wrong.
Now Jon Burt has told how the couple checked out the “best doctors in Turkey” to do the operation. And he is warning others that even doing your research cannot guarantee you will come home.
Jon told The Mirror that he and Emma jointly decided to look into gastric surgery after she became increasingly depressed at her weight which saw her going between a size 12 and a 22. He said they did hours of online research before selecting Regenesis Health Travel, which boasts “quality healthcare at affordable costs”.
Tragically, Emma died two days after her operation after a surgeon accidentally punctured her abdomen during the surgery. Jon, 48, says he “thinks about the decision to go with Regenesis “all the time”.
He said: “I know people will continue to go abroad for treatment because it is more affordable and nothing is going to change that. All I can say is, ‘Do your research’ – but I have to accept that Emma and I did our research and she still died. That is something I have to live with.”
Earlier this year Regenesis was criticised by a coroner after it emerged it had not checked Emma was fit to have surgery. Companies House records showed the firm’s sole director as Erman Yavuz, 42, – formerly the co-director of a Turkish grill restaurant.
Jon, who confirmed that Regenesis “make the arrangements but don’t do the operations”, said: “People think this is cosmetic surgery, but it isn’t. If you cannot afford the high fees over here and the NHS will not carry out the operation, what else are you supposed to do?”
Emma had her operation at Termessos Hospital in Antalya, which says on its website: “We have the best doctors in Turkey.” At the time of her operation she was 3st overweight and booked in to have the surgery in July 2022, just weeks after Jon proposed.
The couple paid Regenesis £2,800 for the trip, which included return flights and five days’ accommodation for them both. Similar surgery in the UK – where Emma did not meet the NHS criteria – would have cost £12,000.
Jon, who started dating Emma, from Warrington, Cheshire, in 2018, said he could only watch helplessly as she went into a series of cardiac arrests brought on by blood loss. The IT consultant said: “I knew something was wrong when I saw the look on the surgeon’s face.
“He was in shock himself but to his credit, he stayed up that first night bringing me two-hourly reports. My feeling is that he rushed the operation then hesitated about reopening Emma’s stomach to find out what went wrong because that would have left her with a scar.”
Following an inquest into Emma’s death, Cheshire coroner Jacqueline Devonish expressed concerns. In a prevention of future deaths notice, she said Regenesis had “relied upon patient self-declaration” and made “no independent inquiries to satisfy themselves” that Emma was fit for the procedure.
Ms Devonish said: “The series of health-related pre-assessment questions asked before referral to the hospital in Turkey were unclear. The questions did not include an inquiry about family history of medical conditions such as cardiac-related issues relevant to Emma.”
The coroner said there had been “no evidence of an investigation into the operating table death” by either the hospital or Regenesis. The Warwickshire-based firm has since said it has changed its processes.
A Regenesis spokesman said: “We are being fully compliant with the request from the UK coroner. We have launched yet another investigation with the Turkish Ministry of Health to look into all events surrounding Emma’s death and are working with the authorities to achieve an outcome for Emma’s family.”
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