A woman with breast implants had to have one implant removed after a nipple piercing led to a deadly infection caused by her husband's sore throat.
Nikki Belza, 33, spent more than $22,000 on breast enhancement surgeries, to bring her from a 32A chest to a 32DDD, the Daily Mail reports.
Belza decided to get her left nipple pierced. Months later, she woke up in agony after accidentally ripping the bar out in her sleep. The pain eventually became unbearable and Belza collapsed at work.
She was rushed to hospital, where doctors told her she had developed Streptococcal A from her husband’s sore throat. The infection triggered sepsis, which infected her breast tissue.
Sepsis is a three-stage syndrome involving increased body temperature and heart rate, notes Mayo Clinic. Severe sepsis can lead to septic shock, or even death.
Due to sepsis’ high mortality rate, doctors removed Belza’s left breast implant in a bid to save her life.
Belza, a cocktail waitress from Las Vegas, discussed the issue:
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.
Doctors told Belza she likely would have died if they didn’t remove her left breast. After five days in hospital, Belza went home, but because her immune system is so weak, the infection keeps recurring.
“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," said Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the U.K. Sepsis Trust. Symptoms might initially include a very sore throat, achy muscles and fatigue."
Daniels cautioned about ignoring the symptoms: "Anyone with flulike symptoms and one or more of the key signs of sepsis must present to health care 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.”