BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A Brownsville mother is being mourned after she died battling fungal meningitis she contracted at a clinic in Matamoros, Mexico.
Crystal Villegas died Sunday afternoon, her husband Johnny Tapia announced in a Facebook post.
“She fought hard for four months and refused to give in, and even though she lost the battle against this deadly disease she gained something so much greater,” Tapia said in the post. “My Crystal gained her angel wings.”
Villegas was hospitalized at Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen, fighting the deadly infection that affects the brain and spinal cord.
ValleyCentral spoke with Villegas in July over a Zoom call from her hospital bed.
She said she had cosmetic surgery in March at the River Side Clinic in Matamoros. Three weeks later, she began experiencing abnormally painful headaches.
Villegas had three children: an 8-month-old, a 3-year-old and a 7-year-old. She was popular in the community and online, building a large social media following by offering fitness and life advice.
“She’s the type of person that’s always gone above and beyond for others,” Tapia said.
According to the CDC, nine people have died after undergoing procedures involving epidural anesthesia in Matamoros. Officials identified two clinics associated with the outbreak: River Side Surgical Center and Clinica K-3. The clinics were closed May 13.
During our interview, Villegas could be seen with a tube inserted in her head to drain fluid and relieve pressure. Her speech was slurred and labored. However, that did not stop Villegas from wanting to spread awareness and a final positive message to the community.
“Enjoy life, don’t worry about how you look or anything like that. This whole thing about changing the way we look, it’s not worth it,” Villegas said.
She was only 31 years old.