AFTER battling with their weight for years, they felt they had reached their last resort – gastric banding to restrict the stomach’s intake.
But yesterday, ex-patients of the Haven Cosmetic Surgery in south Dublin insisted they were left without vital after-care after the centre’s director disappeared.
Dr Laszlo Ruscsak was the head of the clinic and had accompanied those seeking help to Hungary for the life-changing operations. However, for many, the experience had transformed their lives for all the wrong reasons.
One caller to RTÉ’s Liveline said she had paid €7,500 to Dr Ruscsak, while another said that because the band was put on wrong, she was forced to undergo emergency surgery at Tallaght Hospital to have part of her stomach removed.
She had even ended up vomiting her own faeces because of severe complications.
The Dublin ‘clinic’ was dissolved just days ago and has yet to file accounts.
Dr Ruscsak’s co-director at the Haven Cosmetic Surgery clinic was Martyn Ward. Last night, he said that he was ‘astonished’ at the calls and had only met 45-year-old Dr Ruscsak once or twice.
He explained: ‘I did set up the company with him but it did not work, so I pulled out.
‘I resigned. There was a recession so we did not trade. He’s obviously kept the company going and been sending people to Hungary. I am astonished.
I do not know why he has done it.’
The medical centre in Budapest where operations took place was described as ‘like something out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ due to its dilapidated state.
One caller who gave her name as ‘Sarah’ had a gastric band put in last October. She said that complications started just days after her returning to Ireland from the clinic in Hungary.
While she had shed pounds, the weight loss had come at a price. She said: ‘I lost a lot of weight but was continuously vomiting black stuff.’ She later collapsed and was rushed to Tallaght Hospital.
She said: ‘My surgeon told me the band was placed too low and he had to remove some of my stomach. The band had corroded right through my tummy and a false pouch had been created and that’s where the food was going.
‘I wasn’t getting any nourishment from my food so I was in a really serious condition.’
The band, which is placed around the stomach, works by slowing down the amount of food passing through the stomach. This makes people feel fuller for longer. One woman, Marie, had her operation last April.
However, she claimed that she had just two after-care procedures necessary to maintain weight-loss.
She had lost just three stone as a result, despite paying more than €2,000 for post-operative treatment and €7,500 in all to Dr Ruscsak.
She said: ‘I haven’t heard from him since June despite countless calls and emails. I’m now stuck because my weight-loss plan has stalled.
‘It’s an absolute disgrace what this man has done. He should be struck off. He has taken my money and just vanished.’
Dr Laszlo Ruscsak is listed by the Irish Medical Council as a registered anaesthetist and he now works at Ennis General Hospital. Last night, staff confirmed his position there but said he was ‘away for a week’ and referred all calls to the HSE.
There was also no sign of him at Haven Cosmetic Surgery’s address off the Stillorgan Road in Dublin.
The problems experienced by former patients have disturbing echoes of those experienced by the now defunct Advanced Cosmetic Surgery firm.
Three years ago, Bernadette Reid, 48, died just hours after a €2,000 operation to fit a gastric band at ACS’s Dublin clinic. The 20-stone mother died due to an abnormal heart rhythm.
In a subsequent inquest, it emerged that monitors attached to her were not working properly.
Surgeon Dr Jerome Manuceau, who carried out the operation, was struck off the medical register.
Weight-loss surgeon David Kerrigan, who is based at the Blackrock Clinic, said the issue of after-care is extremely serious.
He explained: ‘What patients often don’t realise is that follow-up care is absolutely crucial to getting the result they want.
‘Sometimes complications can set in months or even years after the operation is performed and need to be picked up quickly under the ongoing care of a surgeon.
‘If they are not, the patient could be seriously at risk.’
Were you a client of Dr Ruscsak’s? Do you know where he is? Call 087 919 9113 in confidence.