A beloved city Correction captain died after undergoing plastic surgery at a Dominican clinic run by a doctor who once pleaded guilty to practicing unauthorized medicine.
Tandra Bowser-Williams promised her husband he would love the results of her procedure before she jetted off to Santo Domingo to go under the knife on May 13, her devastated spouse Curtis Williams told the Daily News.
But a day after the fat transfer surgery, Williams got a call from a nurse at the United Hearts Clinic, about a mile away from where she had the work done. His wife, a tough as nails correction officer, had suffered a small stroke, the nurse told him.
“They brought my wife out of the medically induced coma so she could unlock her phone, so that’s how she was able to get in touch with me,” Williams recalled.
As he wrapped his mind around what he was being told, Williams concern rose.
“I heard my wife in the background, and she was complaining about her stomach and her butt.”
The 49-year-old mother was dead before her husband arrived on the Caribbean island to be by her side.
She suffered a massive stroke that “swallowed her brain,” her surgeon, Dr. Hector Cabral, told Williams.
The News’ account of Bowser-Williams’ final hours was put together from interviews with her family, friends, work colleagues and viewing medical billing papers. Her death does not appear to be under investigation.
Bowser-Williams was confident in Cabral’s abilities despite his previous scrape with the law, her husband told The News.
Cabral was indicted by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in 2011 for examining at least 10 women in health spas and beauty parlors in Washington Heights without a license, then luring them to the Dominican Republic for operations that left some disfigured, the legal papers detailed.
He pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized practice of medicine but made a no-jail deal with prosecutors. Instead, Cabral was fined $5,000, ordered to pay $23,055 in restitution and complete 250 hours of community service in the Dominican Republic.
When he returned to Santo Domingo he opened Centro Internacional de Cirugia Plastica Avanzada, the clinic where Bowser-Williams had her surgery.
Fat transfers and risky Brazilian Butt Lifts are allegedly some of the clinic’s specialties.
In 2017, the New York City Health Department warned of eight people in the five boroughs who had surgery at Cabral’s clinic and came home with skin infections.
Cabral and his staff did not return multiple requests for comment on Bowser-Williams’ case.
The loss of veteran correction officer is keenly felt at the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island, where Bowser-Williams worked.
“She was always a good captain, never tried to escape work, always worked in the jails, always worked with inmates,” recalled Patrick Ferraiuolo, President of the Correction Captains union.
“It’s a real loss. She certainly didn’t deserve this. She was a trooper.”
Williams recalled his wife’s “nerves of steel,” and said she was a dedicated mother, raising a son of her own along with her two sisters, a young nephew, and three foster kids.
“Everybody is distraught. She was the heart, the lifeline of the family. The heartbeat,” he said.
Cabral’s clinic paid for Williams’ travel and other costs associated with his wife’s death, even footing the bill for the Dominican funeral home that embalmed her, Williams told The News.
Medical billing papers from the clinic show that Bowser-Williams still owed $400 for medicine related to the surgery that cost her life.
Now Williams is preparing to bury the woman he described as outgoing, headstrong and full of life — his partner since 1996. Despite her confident nature, he feels his wife got caught up in the expectations society puts on women’s bodies.
“Her exact words to me were ‘you’re gonna love Dr. Cabral’s work.’ I didn’t care one way or another. I accepted my wife the way she was.”
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