November 29, 2021

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Houston woman charged in 2018 cosmetic surgery death of St. Louis woman | St. Louis News Headlines

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — It’s been three years for Calvin and Melvin Arnold, but the memories of their late niece Marja McClendon are heightened once again.

“If Marja was in the room you knew she was in the room. she was very outgoing, funny, loved to dance,” Calvin Arnold said.

McClendon, 39, was considered the life of the party and a wonderful parent to her three children.

“We never gave up on getting justice for Marja,” Melvin Arnold said.

McClendon died on April 30, 2018, which was days after traveling from St. Louis to Houston to receive silicon butt injections. It was a procedure she was used to getting, but family, including Calvin and Melvin, warned her against it.

“The last conversation I had with her, she told me she was getting it one more time,” Calvin Arnold said. 

At the time, they didn’t know an unlicensed cosmetic surgeon, 47-year-old Lisa Fernandez, had done the procedure. Harris County court documents state McClendon had her first procedure done around April 27, 2018. Fernandez allegedly injected her with a substance believed to be silicone knowing she was unauthorized to possess the substance.

McClendon experienced a number of reactions including coughing up blood and shortness of breath and Fernandez had to stop the procedure multiple times. Fernandez refused to give McClendon a refund and eventually McClendon continued her second round of silicone butt injections. McClendon ended up hospitalized in Houston. She then flew back to St. Louis, where she was hospitalized again and died.

“It cost her life, and it’s not worth it,” Calvin Arnold said.

On Tuesday, Fernandez was arrested in Houston for a traffic violation. Police said she had no driver’s license on her. While in custody, Harris County prosecutors reported she confessed to McClendon’s 2018 death. She now faces one count of manslaughter.

KHOU-TV reports that St. Louis Metropolitan Police are also investigating Fernandez, but the department would not answer News 4’s request for comment on Thursday.

“Injecting silicone into the body is a no,” Dr. Filiberto Rodriguez said. “They don’t even allow silicone injections in the face anymore.”

Rodriguez is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon in south Texas who has worked directly with patients to correct similar illegal cosmetic procedures done by unlicensed providers like Fernandez.

“I don’t know if it’s getting easier for them, but I know that they’re just getting more embolden. Because any time one gets arrested, another pops up,” Rodriguez said.

He warns that people seeking body transformation surgeries can be susceptible to black market procedures if they do not watch for red flags in what they are being sold. 

“if you’re not being asked to sign informed consent and you can’t find this person on your state medical board website, those are massive red flags,” he said. “Secondly, if they don’t have a clean office, and it doesn’t feel like a doctor’s office, that should be a red flag.”

Calvin and Melvin Arnold said Fernandez’s arrest brings them closer to closure, though it has brought up tough memories from the day she died.

“It was like living her death all over again,” Calvin Arnold said. “My heart went out to the kids, how are they going to accept this now dealing with this all over again. I can only imagine what they’re going through right now.”

Yet, they hope anyone considering a cosmetic procedure can look at what their niece and family has been through since and consider the costs it could bring to them.

“My message to them is don’t do it. if you know the pain that you can possibly cause for a family, and the hurt that’s devastated this family, I would highly recommend just give it a second thought,” Calvin Arnold said. “If you’re going to do it, make sure you do it with a professional.”

Fernandez currently has a $40,000 bond after appearing in court on Wednesday in Harris County. She cannot perform body-altering procedures or serve as a beauty consultant as part of the conditions of her bond.

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