A mother has revealed the devastating moment she almost lost her life to a flesh-eating bug after a double mastectomy which she thought would preserve her health.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
Alicia Wertez, 37, from Florida in the US, decided to have the drastic breast surgery after doctors found pre-cancerous cells in another suspicious lump in her boob on March 4, 2015.
“I’d wanted a mastectomy for years as they’d found pre-cancerous cells years before. But the specialist finally agreed when I found yet another lump, I had no idea what was about to unfold,” she said.
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Seven days after her double mastectomy surgery, Alicia was told that she was healing but she knew something was very wrong after she woke up ‘in agony’. However, it wasn’t until 38 days later when she was given an official diagnosis. “I was put on a low dose of anti-biotics but it wasn’t until four weeks after my first surgery that I was told I needed another operation to clean up a possible infection,” Alicia said.
Alicia was diagnosed with the potentially fatal necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as a flesh-eating disease, and is an infection that results in the death of the body’s soft tissue.
Alicia said that as weeks went on, her chest became increasingly inflamed and her skin even started to turn purple.
After her late diagnosis, Alicia was told by doctors that she needed emergency surgery to have the deep tissue infection removed.
However, it was too late as her breast tissue had been so rotten, that her left nipple even fell off during a bandage change.
“I was trying to prevent my chances of getting breast cancer but I ended up with a deadly flesh-eating disease. It was a nightmare as my breasts were rotting more every day, they were both purple and covered in puss filled spots,” Alicia said.
“I was horrified every time I looked down as my breasts, especially my left one. My left nipple fell off into my hands after a bandage change, my flesh was so rotten that chunks were just dropping off daily.”
On April 10, Alicia said she was rushed down to theatre as the infection had spread towards her lungs and in her chest muscle.’ “The 30 day intense medication was so strong that my hair fell out and my skin went horrifically dry. My organs began shutting down and I became extremely close to death,” she said.
Alicia added that she was in and out of hospital for six weeks. “For a few months, I had no left breast at all. I had the implants reinserted on November 18, 2015 but I still have daily pain.
After undergoing a further six operations to save her life, Alicia has been left severely disfigured by the flesh-eating bacteria. “After numerous surgeries, I have been left disfigured by the disease and seeing my chest every day is a constant reminder. But I have been extremely lucky to have survived,” she said.
Now, Alicia is telling her story to warn others about the deadly bug and to raise awareness about necrotizing fasciitis, and how important earlier diagnosis of the disease is.
“I had all the symptoms such as low blood pressure, pain, swelling, and blisters. Both my boobs were eaten away by this disease. I hope other women read my story and make themselves aware of this type of complication,” she said.