Orange County transgender woman dies after unregulated silicone injections

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- An investigation is underway into the death of a transgender woman who died after getting unregulated silicone injections at a house party.

Images of botched cosmetic procedures are easy to find online. The dangers of such procedures are taught in workshops at the Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County.

The reality of the dangers was driven home after the death of a 40-year-old transgender woman.

"It really broke my heart because it really spoke to me about our body image issues," said Tony Viramontes with the Center OC.

Police say in December Katya De La Riva went to a house party and paid for cosmetic injections to enhance her buttocks.

"Who was the person injecting them? Are they medically trained? Are they a doctor? What exactly did they inject into the decedent?" asked Cpl. Anthony Bertagna with Santa Ana police.

Police say on Jan. 1, the woman went to the hospital with a respiratory problem. She died 20 days later.

The cause of death was silicone embolism syndrome related to an injection for cosmetic purposes.

As police investigate, the Center OC says the death shows the risk involved with silicone parties that have been happening for decades - usually underground.

"It's really dangerous because it can happen in a hotel or in someone's garage, someone's house," said Viramontes. "Some of the things that I've heard that gets used and is very common is industrial-grade silicone, airplane fuel, goat's milk. It's usually with some kind of chemical that's not been approved."

Authorities say that if you're going to get a cosmetic procedure, make sure it is done by somebody who is medically certified. Also, make sure you know what you're being injected with and know the risks.

If you have any information on this case, you're urged to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS or (855) 847-6227.

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