RICHMOND, Texas - The world has come to know her well. Sheyla Hershey is known for her striking smile and her large M cup breast implants. She has tried to save them for the past three months, but that fight has come to an end. Hershey had to have her implants removed, along with most of her own breast tissue.
Hershey tells FOX 26 News her surgeon realized in surgery that most of her tissue was too damaged to save. She says her surgeon tried to save just enough tissue to attempt reconstructive surgery within three or four months.
Hershey has been suffering from severe infections after trying to achieve fame for having the largest breasts in the world. She underwent surgery in Richmond, Texas to have them removed; she has been running a high fever and cannot seem to fight off infections.
Hershey recently met with FOX 26 News during one of her doctor visits. Two specialists have been closely monitoring Hershey the past few months: an infectious disease expert and a cosmetic surgeon. When they first started treating Hershey, infectious disease expert Dr. Shazia Gill says, "She was definitely very critical."
Hershey's most recent breast implant surgery took place in Brazil in June 2010. She quickly became very sick with staph and strep infections that have been threatening not only her breasts, but her life.
Dr. Ron Buczek, Hershey's cosmetic surgeon, agreed to help her. He also has a background in general surgery. Hershey says it was very difficult to find a doctor who would agree to help her. She believes that is because she was so sick and she felt like there could be a lot of legal ramifications involved since she underwent surgery in Brazil and not the U.S.
The size of Hershey's implants are illegal here in the U.S.
"We've already taken her to surgery twice. We needed to open the area up to allow it to drain, because we can't leave an infection in a contained zone," says Dr. Buczek.
It has been a painful process for Hershey.
"Right now, I don't have any skin left to close the hole I have there in my breast", says Hershey. Her condition was being managed with a special vacuum that has been suctioning the infection from her body 24 hours a day for months, along with strong medications.
"It's the only thing that has saved my life, to be honest," says Hershey.
"It is kind of annoying and very terrible to have to sleep with it and run down and upstairs and I have to carry my daughter with it. It's not light, it's heavy, but there's no other option".
Hershey's doctors say the vacuum has helped save her life, but she is in jeopardy again.
"None of the bacteria have cultured out. We had to start her on a third antibiotic, because it wasn't resolving as rapidly as we wanted to see, so she's on three antibiotics, and she was on an anti-fungal medication during this time as well," says Dr. Gill.
Because of the severity of the infections, doctors have been closely monitoring Hershey twice a week.
"I look at white blood cell count, I look at electrolytes and inflammation and right now her drug level. She's on one antibiotic if her levels get too high she can damage her hearing as well as kidneys, she is on very strong antibiotics," explains Dr. Gill.
Even with all of this medical intervention, Hershey's body hasn't been able to ward off the infection. It has been progressively getting worse.
"What's happening, the skin is opening because the implants, the two on each side, are beginning to open that area up", says Dr. Buczek. Hershey's doctors are confident that she will restore her health by removing all four implants.
Dr. Gill showed Sheyla's CT scan to FOX 26 to demonstrate how the two implants are stacked up on each side. She says there is a lot of inflammation and thickening of the skin.
Hershey says she is finally ready for all the implants to be removed.
"I decided to go smaller -- a lot smaller. I just want a normal size like a housewife has," says Hershey.
"I know it's going to be a lot of pain on me because I love to have them, but I realize that my family comes first and I love my daughter and son and they come first. Even though I love to have huge breasts, I don't know why, I just addicted to it; I'm going to try to live without it. Hopefully I will be done then and be happy and just running around with my kids! Just have my back life, my life back!," says Hershey with a wistful smile.
Hershey will go home from the hospital to begin her long recovery process. She says she is scared to look in the mirror.
Hershey says that her son has recently become more accepting of her breast implants. She says she has reconsidered completely getting rid of her large breasts.
Though they are gone for now, she will have to wait to see what the future holds and what surgeons will be able to do to help her. She hopes her faith will keep her strong, along with her loving family at her side.
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