Without Health Insurance Brazilians in US Fear Another Medical Tragedy

Brazilians who live in Massachusetts and who were friends or knew FabÀ­ola de Paula, 24, who died after undergoing liposuction at the hands of a Brazilian unlicensed doctor, in the basement of a Framingham residence, say that the tragedy with the young woman could happen again.

In a series of interviews with the MetroWest Daily news, those Brazilians recognized that health care is something hard to find when they are illegally in the US. Going back to Brazil for treatment would also be out of the question since they could be caught by the Immigration Service.

"People are afraid to come out," Ilma Paixão of Framingham’s Brazilian American Association told the newspaper. "People live in fear. They go to these doctors not just because it’s cheaper, but because they’re afraid to look for medical care."

Many Brazilians apparently also ask their relatives to send medicine from Brazil when they need medical treatment. Others buy herbs and over the counter drugs for self medication. And when they cannot do without a doctor they use Brazilian professionals who have no license to practice in the United States and sometimes are not licensed in Brazil either.

Known as Doutor Luiz (Doctor Luiz), Luiz Carlos Ribeiro, who is a dermatologist in Brazil, is being charged with practicing medicine and dispensing drugs without a US license. Depending on the results of the autopsy being conducted on de Paula he might face charges of manslaughter or murder.

According to several witnesses, Ribeiro has been travelling to the US for the last three years to perform plastic surgeries on Brazilian women living in the United States.

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