A woman with fake breasts had to have one of her implants removed to save her life after her nipple piercing caused a deadly infection.
Nikki Belza, 33, had spent more than $22,000 (£18,000) since she was 21 to take her 32A chest to a 32DDD.
She decided to get her nipple pierced earlier this year, but woke up in agony months after accidentally ripping the bar out.
The pain in her left breast soon became unbearable and caused her to collapse while she was at work.
She was rushed to hospital where doctors told her she had developed Streptococcal A from her husband’s sore throat.
The bacterial infection triggered sepsis – which ravaged her breast tissue and led to surgeons removing her left implant entirely in a bid to save her life.
Mrs Belza, a cocktail waitress, from Las Vegas, said: ‘I was absolutely devastated to be left with only one boob, I am now completely flat chested on one side, but I know how lucky I am to be alive.
‘I can’t believe having a simple procedure like a piercing can lead to a deadly infection like sepsis.
‘I genuinely thought I was going to die and I knew having my breast removed was the only way to save my life but when I woke up after the operation I couldn’t look down at my chest.
‘Not long after my op my co-worker made me a farewell boob cake, even though I was really upset I was able to see the funny side.’
Mrs Belza had her first breast enlargement at the age of 21, after she was unhappy with her 32A chest.
She since had two more surgeries to bring her boobs to a size 32DDD – with the latest surgery in April this year.
Not long after her recovery from her latest operation, she had her nipple pierced.
However, due to the piercing pushing outwards it got caught on her work uniform and was ripped out.
The injury cleaned up and the wound healed within just a few days.
But months later she woke up in the middle of the night with some tenderness and a pain under her left arm.
She assumed she had just pulled a muscle at work – until it caused her to collapse during her shift.
Mrs Belza added: ‘By this point I was shaking uncontrollably and I was freezing cold.
‘My heart rate was 135 beats per minute but after a few hours the pain medication kicked in and I was no longer deemed an emergency.’
Doctors believed it was a complication from her latest breast-enhancing surgery but sent her home.
The next morning, she began to feel worse and her temperature rose to 40°C.
She was rushed to hospital once again where she was seen by an infectious disease specialist and was diagnosed with sepsis.
Experts revealed she had contracted a Streptococcal infection caused by her husband, CJ, 45, having a sore throat.
The bacteria had penetrated her left breast tissue causing what’s known as an invasive infection.
Her body then went into overdrive to try and fight the infection – which ultimately led to the potentially-deadly blood poisoning.
Doctors were left with no option but to remove her breast implant and all the remaining breast tissue.
They warned her that if they didn’t she fall into a coma and more than likely die.
She hopes to have a new implant within six months but is currently concentrating on making a full recovery.
Mrs Belza said: ‘When I woke up in the ICU I couldn’t look at my chest, I was completely devastated but so thankful that I was alive.
‘The crippling pain had finally gone, but I was left with only one boob, they had managed to save my nipple but my left breast is now completely flat.’
After five days in hospital she was sent home, but because her immune system is now so weak the infection keeps coming back.
Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: ‘Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues and, if not spotted and treated quickly, it can rapidly cause organ failure and death.
‘In its early stages, sepsis can look like a bad case of the flu. Symptoms might initially include a very sore throat, achy muscles and fatigue.
‘Anyone with flu-like symptoms and one or more of the key signs of sepsis must present to healthcare immediately, either by calling an ambulance or going to an emergency department.
‘With every hour that passes before the right antibiotics are administered, risk of death increases.’
Source: Daily Mail