Mexican woman says ICE accelerated her deportation from Georgia detention center so that she would not report a gynecologist ‘who wanted to remove her womb’
This article features our client Dawn Wooten and was originally published here.
A Mexican woman is accusing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of speeding up her September deportation to prevent her from filing a report against a Georgia detention facility’s lead gynecologist who allegedly performed unnecessary surgeries without the consent of 19 female detainees.
A five-page report submitted to members of Congress on Thursday detailed the alleged abused suffered by black and Latina women held at Irwin Country Detention Center who said they were subjected to overly aggressive’ or ‘medically unnecessary’ surgery without their approval under Dr. Mahendra Amin. Some of the procedures impacted their ability to have children.
Jaromy Floriano Navarro spoke to Democracy Now on Monday where she claimed she first learned that Dr. Amin was going to perform a hysterectomy while she was being prepped for the July 31 operation at Irwin County Hospital in Ocilla, Georgia.
She claimed that although a nurse gave her a document that required her signature, she was not allowed to review it.
Floriano Navarro recalled talking to an Irwin Country Detention Center official who she identified as Vaughn while she waited for an anesthesiologists to enter the room.
‘She was very polite. She was showing me pictures of her kids, and we were talking there for a minute, when at the end of the conversation she said, ‘You know you’re having a hysterectomy.’ I was going to have my womb removed,’ Floriano Navarro said.
‘And I had heard that word before a lot in Irwin County, so I knew that a hysterectomy was to remove our woman parts. And when she said that, I looked at her, and I didn’t say anything. I just automatically prayed. I said, ‘Lord, did you hear what she said? That’s outrageous. What is she talking about?”
Jaromy Floriano Navarro told Democracy Now on Monday that while she was being held at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, she developed a vaginal infection and was diagnosed with a cyst. She visited Dr. Mahendra Amin, who without her consent, had scheduled a hysterectomy for July 31. Floriano Navarro initially thought she was going to have her cyst removed during the procedure
Scott Grubman, who acts as Dr. Amin’s lawyer, was contacted by DailyMail.com for comment. He did not respond to Floriano Navarro’s accusations.
ICE declined to comment on the investigation involving Dr. Amin, but did provide a statement from Tony Pham, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director, who said that the ‘recent allegations by the independent contracted employee raise some very serious concerns that deserve to be investigated quickly and thoroughly.’
‘ICE welcomes the efforts of both the Office of Inspector General as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s parallel review,’ Pham said. ‘As a former prosecutor, individuals found to have violated our policies and procedures should be held accountable. If there is any truth to these allegations, it is my commitment to make the corrections necessary to ensure we continue to prioritize the health, welfare and safety of ICE detainees.’
The Mexican national, who had been in custody of ICE since October 2019 and was deported September 16, initially experienced vaginal cramps in March 2020 and was diagnosed with a cyst.
‘He told me right off the bat; he said, ‘You have a cyst. And it’s not big, but it could grow. And we need to do a surgery,” said Floriano Navarro, who added she visited Dr. Amin at least 40 times.
Floriano Navarro said she received two doses of Depo-Provera, a contraceptive injection that normally suppresses ovulation and keeps the ovaries from releasing an egg. She experience vaginal bleeding following her first shot of the drug.
She recalled that she and another undocumented immigrant detained at Irwin Country Detention Center saw Dr. Amin in July and were told that they needed to be operated on.
Floriano Navarro said that her July 31 operation, which she initially thought was set to drain out her cyst, was cancelled at the last second because COVID-19 exam prior to the surgery showed that she had coronavirus antibodies.
Floriano Navarro said she was kept in isolation following the COVID-19 test results upon her return to Irwin Country Detention Center and also questioned why ICE kept her at the detention facility after she had lost a court appeal to stop her deportation.
‘After that month of July, I was supposed to be gone, at least a week or two weeks later. But, no, they held me there,’ she said. ‘They were really trying to do the surgery on me. For whatever reason, they wanted to take my womb out.’
Floriano Navarro signed her deportation documents September 15, and met with Dr. Amin, who was upset she had refused to follow through with the operation that had been rescheduled for August 14.
‘And he was pissed. He was like, ‘Why didn’t you get the surgery? Who told you to say no?’ And I was like, ‘Excuse me? It was a misunderstanding. Stories were being changed. How was I supposed to say yes? I’m not going to undergo a surgery that I have no knowledge of,” she said. ‘He was angry, and they deported me the next day.’
Floriano Navarro said officers at Irwin County Detention Center sought her to find out if she had report Dr. Amin. She told them she had spoken to a lawyer about the claims ‘illegal surgeries’ were being practised on other undocumented immigrants.
Her deportation to Mexico took place a day after a whistleblower’s report came out.
The complaint by Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at the immigration center, alleged medical abuse within the facility, including unauthorized hysterectomies, a surgery to remove the uterus.
Wooten was employed full-time as a licensed practical nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed.
In her complaint, Wooten said that a gynecologist dubbed ‘the uterus collector’ performed hysterectomies on ‘everybody he saw’ at the facility.
‘Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy – just about everybody,’ Wooten said in her complaint. ‘He’s even taken out the wrong ovary on a young lady.
Wooten’s allegations prompted a Congressional inquiry and federal investigation. Last month, immigration authorities stopped sending women to the facility pending the investigation.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the report submitted to Congress on Thursday was written by a team of nine board-certified OB-GYNs and two nursing experts, who reviewed more than 3,200 pages of records obtained for the 19 women.
The women under Amin’s care were administered birth control and underwent procedures without their consent, including to remove their reproductive organs, such as the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
One woman, 28, said that she awoke chained to a bed after Amin performed a cystectomy and ‘dilation and curettage,’ a procedure to scrape tissue from inside her uterus, without her consent.
Grubman, Amin’s lawyer, said in an emailed statement to The Times that he is ‘legally prohibited from responding to anything related to medical care on a specific patient without that patient signing a HIPAA release allowing him to do so.’
‘Dr. Amin strongly denies all of the allegations, many of which have already been proven false,’ Grubman continued. ‘We have gathered evidence and spoken with various witnesses … who confirm that Dr. Amin always acted appropriately with patients, obtained informed consent, and used translators/interpreters whenever necessary.
‘Dr. Amin is a highly respected physician who has dedicated his adult life to treating a high-risk, underserved population in rural Georgia. Dr. Amin is fully cooperating with investigators and looks forward to the investigations clearing his good name and reputation.’
Irwin County Hospital defended Amin in a statement, saying he ‘is a long-time member of the Irwin County Hospital medical staff and has been in good standing for the entirety of his service to the Irwin County community.