In June 2005, Jayney Nascimento was diagnosed with lipedema – a condition that causes an abnormal build of fat-cells.
She was self-conscious about the effect it had on her legs and wanted them to be slimmer.
In June 2017, she decided to borrow £20,000 from her mum and use it to have liposuction to remove some of the fat.
But the operation left her minutes from death after she contracted a flesh-eating bug called necrotising fasciitis. She had to be put in a medically induced coma and nearly had her legs amputated.
Jayney, 48, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, says: ‘I paid for an expensive cosmetic procedure so I would feel comfortable showing my legs off. Instead, I nearly lost them and I hate them more now than I did before the operation.
‘Having the surgery is my biggest regret because I nearly died and have been left scarred for life.
‘However, I am grateful to be alive and that my daughter still has her mum.’
Jayney’s legs had ballooned three times their size, going from a size 10 to a 16, because of lipedema.
Jayney says: ‘For 12 years I felt absolutely ridiculous. My legs were a size 16 while my top half was a size 10.
‘I refused to wear dresses or skirts as I was just too embarrassed – I even wore trousers when the weather was scorching.
‘I dreamed of having skinny legs and wearing a bikini.’
But in 2017, she finally decided she wanted to have an operation to remove some of the fat. She borrowed £20,000 from her mum, Diane Powell, 72, a retired pharmacist, and had the operation in June that year.
Jayney says: ‘Afterwards my legs were in agonising pain, but I was so excited to see my skinny pins.
‘Doctors discharged me from the hospital.
‘Within a few hours of arriving home, the pain in my legs became excruciating.
‘The next day, my body felt ice-cold even though I was wrapped up in blankets.
‘I worried that I’d contracted an infection, but I put it down to the medication making me feel weird so I didn’t speak to a doctor.’
But she got worse and three days later, she passed out at home and her daughter Jasmine Nascimento, 14, called an ambulance.
Jayney says: ‘I woke up in hospital. I thought I’d been only unconscious for an hour.
‘A doctor told me I’d been in an induced coma for two days. He said I’d caught necrotising fasciitis which had eaten away at my legs.
‘He also said I’d been just minutes away from death and was lucky to be alive.
‘I burst into tears.’
Necrotising fasciitis is a disease where bacteria releases toxins that damage the tissue.
Jayney says: ‘Mum revealed that doctors wanted to amputate my legs while I’d been unconscious but they managed to stop the infection spreading.
‘I felt so thankful to have survived but couldn’t believe that a simple procedure had done this.’
The flesh on her legs was raw, oozing and covered in skin grafts and for the first few days, Jayney struggled to even look at them.
Jayney says: ‘When I finally saw them for the first time I immediately felt sick.
‘My right leg had no flesh so I could see my bones, they were black and smelt foul.
‘My left leg had had skin grafts, but there were holes everywhere.
‘It looked like reptilian skin.
‘I’d undergone liposuction to make me feel more confident about my legs, now they were half-eaten.’
During the next month, Jayney underwent 20 skin grafts on her right leg and then started physiotherapy.
Three weeks later, in August 2017, Jayney was finally sent home after being in hospital for two months.
Jayney says: ‘I was forced to use a zimmer frame as I couldn’t walk, and had to move in with Mum as she had an electric stairlift.
‘Thankfully my friend agreed to look after Jasmine, but it was horrible being away from her.’
She faced learning to walk again and couldn’t move back home until December 2017.
Jayney says: ‘I quit my job as a support worker at a children’s care home, as I could no longer run around after the kids.
‘Instead, I got a desk job as an administrator.
‘Strangers stared at my legs whenever I wore a skirt or dress.
‘All I wanted was skinny legs and now my legs were completely scarred.
‘My plans for swimsuits and holidays after my liposuction disappeared.
‘Now it’s been two years since I caught NF.
‘My amazing daughter is helping me gain my confidence back by taking me out and complimenting me all the time.
Jayney has now met a new partner who compliments her and makes her feel beautiful.
She adds: ‘I want other people to know about NF and recognise the symptoms I had.
‘I have PTSD from what happened, but I am just trying to stay positive and be happy that I am alive.
‘I paid £20,000 for surgery but almost paid the ultimate price, my life.’
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