Death of a beauty queen during liposuction operation captivates and angers Ecuadorians; physicians could be charged with ‘femicide’

Jan 15, 2015

A 19-year-old Ecuadorian beauty queen and aspiring doctor died during a botched liposuction operation she was awarded as a prize, according to authorities.

Catherine Cando

Catherine Cando

Catherine Cando, who was crowned Queen of Durán last fall, initially refused the slimming procedure reasoning that she could work off the weight with diet and exercise, her brother told local media in Guayaquil.

He said it was pressure from a surgeon, however, that made her finally agree.

“She was thinking about letting someone else have it as a freebie but eventually she agreed to have it just to get him off her back,” said her brother, Daniel Zavela.

The stunning brunette, who was studying medicine at the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil, went into the private clinic on Saturday but exited in a body bag, authorities said.

Prosecutors suspect the teen died from medical malpractice and ordered the arrest of two doctors who performed the surgery on charges of negligence.

The case is front-page news in Ecuador, where beauty pageants are closely followed for a large portion of the population. Hundreds turned out earlier this week to attend Cando’s funeral

“It can be presumed as negligence because there has been no support from doctors who have failed to explain anything about the case,” said the family’s attorney, Carloes Reyes Izquierdo.

Ecuador’s interior minister, José Serrano, says his office is investigation the death as a possible “femicide,” a crime against women. The interior ministry is responsible for law enforcement in Ecuador. “The negligence in this case rises to that level, I believe,” Serrano said.

An investigation into the tragic death is continuing.