INDIANAPOLIS — Sharae Terry describes her twin sister, Shacare, as a loving mother to her two-year-old and the proud owner of the Minnie Blessings in Paradise daycare on the city’s east side.
“Me and my sister had the type of relationship that we could get into it one minute and then right after that we would be back friends and talking,” Sharae said.
When her sister traveled to the Dominican Republic in April with her childhood friend, Carlesha Williams, Sharae says she never imagined she would never be able to hug her again.
Sharae says she knew something wasn’t right when she Facetimed with her sister a few days after her surgery, and she didn’t look like the sister she knew.
“I knew something wasn’t right. I knew it in my heart.” Sharae said.
Last month’s trip wasn’t Shacare’s first time traveling out of the country for surgery.
She had posted to her Facebook page back in February that she went to Mexico where her family says she underwent gastric sleeve surgery.
Just a few months later on April 11, Shacare and Williams traveled to the Dominican Republic for another procedure.
“She was definitely healthy, everything that went wrong happened there,” Sharae said.
Williams says her and Shacare both underwent surgeries for a Brazilian butt lift and tummy tuck.
Williams says both of their surgeries were performed by Dr. Jose Desena at Instituto Medico San Lucas.
By the second day after her surgery, Williams said she was still in a lot of pain, but she noticed Shacare seemed to be struggling a lot more than she was.
“I was moving around a lot more and Shacare wasn’t really moving around, she wasn’t doing anything,” Williams said. “She would lay in bed. I would try to get her to go downstairs and eat with me and she just wasn’t responding well.”
A day later, Shacare was admitted into the Centro Medico Escanno SRL clinic in Santo Domingo.
“When we go in there and I see her, I almost fell out,” Williams said. “She was on all these machines. She was unresponsive, she wasn’t talking, eyes closed.”
Williams said she was told by the doctor that Shacare was fine, that her kidneys were doing well and that her body just needed rest.
She said the Desena told her that Shacare wasn’t responsive because she was sedated.
“So, he said, ‘if you unhook that she is going to be perfectly fine,’ and he said ‘yea, the body just needs rest,’” Williams said.
When Williams went back to visit her friend the next day, she said a different doctor was taking care of her. That doctor told her that Shacare was having a hard time breathing on her own.
Then a short time later, Williams said Desena returned to the room and told her that Shacare was actually getting better, and she just needed to be put on dialysis.
“I’m reaching out to the mother to get down here,” Williams said. “I’m telling them what’s going on, but I’m trying not to scare them, but I want to scream ‘get down here!’”
When Shacare’s mom arrived in the Dominican Republic about a week after her surgery, Williams said the Desena continued to insist that she just needed rest and told them to leave.
“Her mother basically tells me that ‘I don’t believe that my daughter is alive, I know my daughter isn’t alive, why won’t they tell me,’” Williams said.
Williams said she had to travel back to Indiana, but she visited her friend in the clinic the day before she left and was told they were planning to wake her up the next day.
Williams arrived back in the United States on April 21 where she learned that Shacare had passed away.
“[Shacare’s] mom said ‘Carlesha, I went back to my room for an hour, and they called me and told me that her heart stopped that quick,’” Williams said. “She hurries up and goes right back to the clinic and they said her daughter was already in a body bag.”
Both Sharae and Williams say they just want to know what happened.
A spokesperson for the United States Department of State sent the following statement to WRTV.
“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in the Dominican Republic. We are providing all appropriate assistance to the family. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
“We are going to keep fighting,” Sharae said. “Will not stop at all, Shacare was a very important person.”
WRTV has made numerous attempts to contact Dr. Jose Desena in the Dominican Republic. He has not responded to any of our requests.
Shacare's family says they hope to have her body back in the U.S. sometime this week.
Traveling overseas for cosmetic surgery is something many doctors say is a growing trend in the United States.
Dr. Ivan Hadad, who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgeries for Eskenazi, Methodist and IU Health, says since last summer he has seen at least one patient per week at his practice who had previously left the country for plastic surgery.
Hadad said some of those patients have had complications from those overseas surgeries, but not all of them have.
"I would say it's 50/50," Hadad said. "There's a number of patients that had the operation that they wanted and had an adequate result. But then, it's basically a coin flip where others... have had some complications, some that are... expected and some that are not."
Before you get any type of procedure here in Indiana, you can look up the doctor's name and check their qualifications, disciplinary history and any claims of malpractice online with the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana.
WRTV Photojournalist Paul Chiodo contributed to this story.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story stated that the Centro Medico Escanno SRL clinic was located in Santiago. We have since confirmed that the clinic was located in Santo Domingo. We regret this error.