Body modification has always been a way for people to express their individuality. Whether it’s a small piercing like a nose ring or really intense scarification, we all find ways to express ourselves. Some may say that people take it to the extreme, but ultimately that is their right to do so. However, while generally harmless, body modification comes with risks, and sometimes the smallest thing can cause a really big problem.
Nose ring to blame for liver failure
Dana Smith is a young woman who lives in Queens, New York. And recently, she had contracted hepatitis B from her nose ring. She had to be put into a medically induced coma as the infection caused severe brain swelling and other life-threatening complications that eventually necessitated a liver transplant.
Dana commented that if she had waited one more day to get help from the doctor, her chances of survival would have drastically decreased. Her doctor, Lew Teperman, said, “She was in such dire straits. It was a miracle that we were able to get a liver in time.”
Dana said that she had always been in relatively good health and had wanted a nose ring for some time now. When a friend of hers decided that she would get the piercing, Dana thought she would do it too. It was around the time of her birth, so she felt it was a good idea. She left the decision-making to her friend, who chose the place they would have it done. She chose a local body mod studio at a nearby mall. Dana said that she felt comfortable with the studio. It seemed to be clean, and everyone was very nice and professional, and she knew a few people who had already gotten piercings at the same place. After it was done, she said, “I didn’t have any irritation, no redness or anything, I had no issues with the actual piercing itself.”
When it all goes wrong
Dana reported that everything was fine until 10 January. This is when she began to suffer from really bad stomach pains and could not hold down any food for a number of days. She thought she may have eaten something that had upset her stomach and that it would pass within a few days. When she started throwing up blood she knew it was time to take action. So, her sister took her to the hospital. Dana recalls that when she woke on January 20, she had a new liver and no memory of the last ten days.
Dr. Teperman commented that he told Dana the good news once she had woken from the coma. The infection had caused such severe swelling in her brain that it caused her to have seizures. All because of the hepatitis B contracted from the nose ring. The doctor told her that the test results showed that she had fulminant Hepatitis B liver failure. “She responded overwhelmingly to the virus, and her body was working on clearing it, but it killed her liver,” said doctor Teperman.
Dana would have to receive a new liver within the next five days to have any chance of survival. She was put on the transplant list and was given the highest status on the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Dr. Teperman and his colleges were able to procure a healthy liver from a recently deceased woman only three days after being on the donor list. Shortly after, he was able to perform the transplant. He would later confess that he was concerned that there would be brain damage due to the swelling, and she would not wake.
Falling into place
Dr. Teperman’s concerns proved unnecessary because Dana woke days later. When her breathing tube was removed, her doctor noticed it and asked her about it. He said that it was then that he began to understand.
According to the CDC, hepatitis B is very contagious and can be transmitted when blood, semen, or any body fluid enter a non-infected person’s bloodstream. Any person who gets a piercing or tattoo under unsterile conditions is at higher risk for contracting the virus. Sanitary measures greatly reduce the risk of transmission but do not 100% eliminate it. Since regulations for tattoo and piercing parlors vary from state to state, it is up to you to do the research and know the risk.
No regrets for getting a nose ring
Doctor Teperman is convinced that her nose ring was the source of the infection, but Dana says she does not regret getting the nose ring done and does not blame the studio or hold any bad feelings. She said that she would not allow her daughter to get any piercings done until she is an adult.
Dr. Terperman advises that anyone thinking about getting anything done carefully inspect the studio, especially during the Covid pandemic.
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