British Columbia·CBC Investigates

'I was screaming,' woman says of 'painful' eye lift by suspected fake doctor

"When she cut my eyelid, it felt very painful," an ESL student who thought Zhou (Sabrina) Li was a doctor said when she went to her basement clinic in Delta in October for eye lift surgery.

CBC spoke with woman who claims she had surgery at a basement clinic in October.

'I was screaming,' says eye lift patient who says she underwent painful cosmetic surgery at a basement clinic in Delta in October.

A 28-year-old woman thought Zhuo Li was a doctor when she went to her basement clinic in Delta in October for eye lift surgery to be performed under a local anesthetic.

"When she cut my eyelid, it felt very painful," said the ESL student, who does not wish to be identified. 

"[Li] said I was annoying her because I was screaming," the woman added.

Li is accused of performing cosmetic surgery and injection procedures without a licence to practise medicine or medical training, according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

Li's basement clinic was raided on Dec 20 after a judge ordered a search of the north Delta home.

Zhuo Li is the owner of Sabrina Permanent Make-up Studio Inc. registered to Delta, B.C., home where raid took place. (Facebook)

The young woman says she needs another surgery because one eye looks square and the other is triangular.

The woman who spoke to CBC News did not complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, but others did, which prompted an unprecedented investigation.

Patients urged to seek testing

Last week all patients of the suspected illegal cosmetic surgery clinic were urged to get tested for HIV and hepatitis by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

"This is horrific," said Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar and CEO, about the allegations.

"Right now we have a temporary restraining order so she is not allowed to provide these services and we hope to get a permanent injunction so she can never provide these services," Oetter told CBC News.
Two women believed to be patients were captured on surveillance video exiting the side door of the home and left in a Bentley Continental.

Li, who also goes by the first name Subrina, is the sole director of a company registered at the home, called Sabrina Permanent Make-up Studio Inc. 

Court documents used to obtain the search were unsealed yesterday after an application from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and they provide a raw account of what might have been going on at the home.

According to an affidavit by private investigator Michael Lantz of Paladin Security, there was evidence that suggested surgery had taken place in the recently renovated basement. 

Bandaged patients seen leaving in luxury cars

A steady stream of luxury vehicles, including two Bentleys, a Mercedes, and a Porsche was captured on surveillance video outside the residence.
Scalpel blades, retrieved from the garbage outside the residence on December 14, 2016.

Women were seen leaving after three or four hours, with bandaged faces say the documents after the clinic was put under surveillance on Dec 13-14, 2016.

Vials of Adrenaline, fat dissolving injections, a version of botox, and hyaluronic acid were seized in a raid conducted on the house on Dec. 20, 2016.

The investigation had begun weeks earlier after two physicians reported seeing patients with infections.

Bloody gauze and tissue seized from garbage

On two occasions, investigators seized garbage bags from the home and found blood-soaked gauze, used syringes, scalpel blades, and what appeared to be small amounts of human tissue. 
This used sterile gauze was found in the garbage outside of the house of the person allegedly performing illegal medical procedures in their home.

"Most concerning, Investigators located what appeared to be human tissue, fat and blood within the garbage refuse," Lantz wrote in a separate summary of the investigation for the college.

"Equipment of the type commonly used in surgery, 68 used surgical gloves, gauze, much of it stained with a substance I believe to be blood," he wrote.

"It appears that most of these items were imported from China and Korea and should only be used for the practice of medicine," Lantz concluded.

'Thread' facelift supplies found 

In the garbage they also found 45 empty packages of products designed for a popular Korean "thread" face lift, according to the documents.

Dissolvable polydioxanone thread is inserted under the skin, and is supposed to lift sagging skin and fat by stimulating collagen production, according to a company that promotes a similar procedure in Singapore. 

It is used on the face, nose and brows and is advertised as less invasive than conventional surgery.

45 empty packages of products designed for a popular Korean "thread" face lift were found in the garbage of the home prior to the raid.

At least two shipments of medical equipment were returned to sender by Canada Customs, because Li did not have a licence to import a medical device, say the documents.

Several credit receipts that failed to process for between $2600 and $5000 were also found.

Sterilization question

The college began its investigation after receiving a complaint in mid-November from a physician who says his 23-year-old patient was left with a serious infection after she got a nose implant at the basement clinic.

Investigator Mike Lantz of Paladin Security (left) lead investigation, including the seizure of 14 boxes of evidence during a raid on the home business. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

Health officials are concerned as they have found no evidence Li has any medical training.

They also failed to find an autoclave on the premises, which is a high-pressure steam chamber used in hospitals and medical clinics to sterilize equipment.

They did find surgical clamps, scissors, scalpel blades.

The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons and Delta Police raided a basement business in this house on Dec. 20. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

During the raid last month Delta police accompanied eight investigators who entered and searched the two-storey home.

CBC News arrived shortly after the raid began, after receiving a tip from the public that police were at the residence.

Investigators were seen removing more than a dozen bankers' boxes of material and a Mac computer from the home. 

Zhuo Li, seen here with her spouse Tom Quinn, share the home that was raided in December. (Facebook)

Couple responds

Property records show that the owner of the house is Li's spouse, Thomas Jeffrey Quinn.

According to Quinn's Facebook posts, he returned to Delta in 2015 with his family after teaching ESL in China for eight years.

"They will continue to co-operate with the college in their investigation," said lawyer Jas Mangat, who represented Li and Quinn at the Supreme Court hearing.

They did not oppose the unsealing of the court records, which were redacted to conceal license plates and credit card numbers of Li's clients.

They did not respond to questions about the ESL student's claim of having painful surgery.

None of the allegations against Li have been tested in court. 

The college will be back in court at the end of the month, hoping Li will consent to a permanent injunction and avoid the need for further legal action. 

CBC News Investigates

If you have information on this or any other story we should investigate, email us:

Follow @NatalieClancy on TWITTER.