A woman has been left with one gigantic breast after her nipple piercing cause a deadly infection.
Nikki Belza, 33, had her first boob job aged 21 and has since spent £18,000 on two further surgeries to take her 32A chest to a whopping 32DDD.
But after accidentally ripping out the bar of her newly pierced nipple earlier this year, Nikki woke in agony months later, despite the wound originally healing.
The pain in her left breast soon became unbearable and Nikki collapsed at work, she was rushed to hospital where her temperature reached 40 degrees – three times the average body temperature – and she was convinced she was going to die.
Nikki had developed Streptococcal A, an infection which she contracted from her husband, CJ, who had been suffering from a sore throat just three weeks before.
The bacteria triggered a deadly form of blood poisoning – sepsis – which ravaged Nikki’s breast tissue and led to surgeons removing her left boob implant entirely in a bid to save her life.
Nikki hopes to have a new implant within six months but is currently concentrating on making a full recovery.
Nikki, a cocktail waitress, 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.
“My husband had had a sore throat and he passed the infection onto me, because of my recently infected nipple I was more prone to infection and my breast tissue became damaged.”
“I woke up on my birthday with some tenderness under my left arm and when I got to work the pain became excruciating, I have never felt anything like it.
“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.
“Over the past nine weeks I have had a slow recovery as my immune system has been so weak, but I am nearly getting there and I can’t wait to have new implants.”
She added: “I had been meaning to remove the piercing for some time, but after it got it caught I cleaned it up and it healed within a few days.
“I didn’t think anything else of it until the morning of my birthday on August 7 when I woke with some tenderness and a pain under my left arm.
“Being a waitress we lift a lot of heavy boxes so I just thought I had pulled a muscle, but when I got into work that day I was in agony.
“I felt like I was going to collapse and by the time my husband got there I couldn’t walk, he carried me to the car we went straight to the hospital.
“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 thought it was something to do with my recent surgery so I was sent home but the next morning I started to feel worse, I can hardly remember what happened but my temperature rose to 40 degrees.
“CJ called my surgeon again and because he knew something wasn’t right he flew back into town, my white blood cell count was 44,000 and he said that he’d never seen a count that high before.”
Nikki was rushed to hospital once again where she met with an infectious disease specialist and was soon diagnosed with sepsis.
Nikki was unware that three weeks previously she had contracted a Streptococcal infection, caused by her husband’s sore throat, and the bacteria had penetrated her left breast tissue causing what’s known as an invasive infection.
Nikki’s body went into overdrive to try and fight the infection which then caused sepsis.
Nikki said: “My breast didn’t look abnormal, it was slightly swollen but inside is where the damage was being done.
“Doctors were left with no option but to remove my breast implant and all the remaining breast tissue, if they didn’t I could fall into a coma and more than likely die.
“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 5 days in hospital I was sent home, but because my immune system is now so weak the Strep keeps coming back, the last nine weeks have been the worst time of my life.
“I am slowly making a recovery, I have good days and bad days but I am hoping to go back to work again soon and I’m hoping to have new implants in around six months’ time.
“Doctors reassured me that having breast implants was not related to contracting sepsis, but it’s so important to know that sepsis can occur from any untreated infection.”
Dr Ron Daniels BEM, 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.”