Miami Mother of 5 Dies After Getting a Butt Implant From a Doctor Who Allegedly Wasn’t Allowed to Operate

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Mar 21, 2024

Cosmetic surgery is safer and more popular than ever before. From lip filler to implants, Botox, facelifts, and nose reshaping, there’s really nothing that doctors can’t do. However, even though they are common practice, there are still risks involved with receiving any surgery. 

Sadly, a mother of five from Tennessee died from some of these risks in the middle of a cosmetic surgery in Florida in 2021. Now, her family is suing the practice, alleging that the doctor who performed her Brazilian butt implant was not allowed to practice medicine.

The Story of Erica Russell

In June 2021, Erica Russell said goodbye to her family in Nashville and headed to Coral Gables, Florida, to receive a Brazilian butt lift at the Seduction Cosmetic Center. 

Cut out photograph of Erica Russell, who died during BBL surgery in Florida in 2021

Source: Highland Hills Funeral Home & Crematory

But only two hours after the procedure started, Russell experienced cardiac arrest and died on the table. 

What Happened in the Surgery?

Her doctor, Dr. John Samson, reportedly punctured her intestines, liver, and bladder with a tube that is used to remove body fluids, which almost certainly led to her heart attack and consequent death. 

Surgeons pass tools across a patient on the operating table

Source: Freepik

There are always risks, even life-threatening ones, when undergoing surgery. The problem for the Russell family is that Dr. Samson was never supposed to be doing Russell’s surgery in the first place. 

The Russell Family Has Filed a Lawsuit Against the Seduction Cosmetic Center

Since losing Erica, the Russell family has grieved, and is now filing a lawsuit against both the Seduction Cosmetic Center and Dr. Samson. 

Exterior of the Seduction Cosmetic Center in Florida

Source: Seduction Cosmetic Center

In the suit, the family claims the Seduction Cosmetic Center ensured Erica that Dr. Samson “had plastic and cosmetic privileges.” However, a 2020 letter from the Florida Health Department stated specifically that the doctor could “not perform surgical procedures [at] Seduction’s facility.”

Evidence of the Russell Family’s Claims

Although the Russell family’s lawyers have not released some details, including their supporting documents, of the lawsuit, the Seduction Cosmetic Center’s website clearly supports their claims. 

Screenshot of the bio of Dr. John Samson from the Seduction Cosmetic Center’s Website

Source: Seduction Cosmetic Center

On the website, the center provides a first-person bio from Dr. John Samson, in which Samson wrote that he is a plastic surgeon and that his “experience has [granted him] the judgment and insight that every patient wants to see in their surgeon.”

Was Dr. Samson Actually Banned From Performing Surgeries?

The letter from the Florida Health Department regarding Dr. Samson’s surgical restrictions has not yet been released to the public. The world will have to wait until the trial is completed to find out whether this allegation is founded in hard evidence. 

Dr. John Samson of the Seduction Cosmetic Center

Source: Seduction Cosmetic Center

However, since the botched surgery that killed Erica Russell, the Florida Health Department has released a statement explaining that Dr. Samson has now been “permanently restricted from performing gluteal fat grafting procedures” and is no longer “serving as the designated physician of an office surgery center.”


Whether or Not Dr. Samson Could Legally Perform the Surgery Isn’t the Only Problem

In addition to the assertion that Dr. Samson was never supposed to be performing on Erica Russell in the first place, the lawsuit also claims the doctor was negligent and made a fatal mistake because he was simply too tired. 

Paperwork for a lawsuit under a judge’s gavel

Source: Freepik

NBCNews reported his first surgery that day was at 6:32 AM, and he continued working until Erica’s procedure, which started at 8:31 PM. That means Dr. Samson had been working for 14 consecutive hours, which isn’t illegal, but is certainly concerning.


How Can Someone Die During a Brazilian Butt Lift?

It’s important to understand that while many see cosmetic surgery as an easy way to change their body without adjusting their diet, exercise, or skincare regimen, the truth is that many of these procedures are quite invasive and dangerous.

Woman defining her glutes through exercise

Source: Freepik

Arguably, people shouldn’t and don’t often die while receiving a Brazilian butt implant. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.


How a Brazilian Butt Lift Surgery Actually Works

Brazilian butt lift surgery, or BBL, is a procedure in which “a doctor transfers fat from your belly, hips, lower back, or thighs to your buttocks.”

Doctor drawing markings on a woman’s butt before surgery

Source: Freepik

The name “butt lift” is actually inaccurate as “it doesn’t try to raise your buttocks,” but “instead, it increases volume.” By removing fat via liposuction with a small tube from another part of the body, the doctor can then take a person’s own fat and add it to their butt. 


How Many People Have Died From BBL Surgery?

In 2021, 61,387 Americans underwent BBL surgery, which is more than 37% than the year before. However, only 8 people who got the surgery died. 

Graph showing the numbers of BBL statistics

Source: National Library of Medicine

Statistically speaking, those are pretty great numbers for a surgical procedure. Though every person who opts for the surgery is told that death is a possible consequence of going under the knife, they’re told it’s far from common. 


Erica Russell Thought She Was in Good Hands

Even when someone is told there are dangers to a procedure, they most often believe they will be one of the 61,381-odd people who survive and thrive with the surgery, not one of the only 8 who didn’t make it. 

Doctor filling out paperwork with patient

Source: Freepik

Erica Russell was one of those people. She trusted her surgeon and believed she would be home with her family in no time. But, sadly, that’s not what happened. 


“A (Very) Small Step in the Right Direction”

The Russell family’s lawyers told the press that the Florida Health Department’s decision to prevent Dr. Samson from performing any more surgeries until this matter is finalized is “a (very) small step in the right direction.”

Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. firm’s Facebook page cover photo

Source: @Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A./Facebook

The firm wrote on its Facebook page, “We should not accept this type of conduct in our community. Our firm looks forward to moving this case forward and holding these defendants accountable for their actions.”