WHEN Sheriah Harrison went in for a “mummy makeover”, she hoped to iron out all the lumps and bumps that were bringing her down.
Instead, the cut-price surgery almost led to her dying.
Mother-of-two Sheriah had wanted to get rid of her mum tum for 18 years, so she was excited to get liposuction, a tummy tuck and a boob reduction in Turkey last year for £5,000.
The op was around £7,000 cheaper than it would have been in the UK. But Sheriah — mum to sons Jay, 22, and Brandon, 19 — paid a far higher price as her tummy swelled like a balloon.
Back in the UK she was told she had the onset of sepsis, a deadly infection that kills 52,000 people a year in Britain.
Sheriah, 40, from Cardiff, says: “I’m lucky to be alive. My tummy swelled up and I couldn’t breathe properly because of the pressure on my lungs.
“I was in so much pain. My skin turned red and purple. I was terrified and my family thought they were going to lose me. I thought I was going to die.”
Sheriah, a civil servant, wanted the breast implants she had at 16 removed, along with stretch marks and excess skin from her pregnancies.
She says: “I had been unhappy with my stomach ever since I had children 19 years ago. It just got worse and worse with age.
“I was very self-conscious in a bikini and it affected what clothes I wanted to wear.
“It was always on my mind and affected my confidence an awful lot.
“I was having the breast implants taken out anyway so I thought now is the perfect time to get my stomach done at the same time.”
“I looked at clinic reviews online and most were good for the one I chose. I thought I was making the best decision.”
So in October last year, Sheriah flew out on a package deal booked through a medical tourism company for the surgery at a clinic in Istanbul. She says: “I had a bank loan which I extended by £5,000 so I could have the surgery.
“I was very nervous and I had some doubts because anything can happen. It’s never nice going under anaesthetic.
“I was abroad as well, so maybe I’d have felt differently if in the UK.
“Afterwards, I could feel my stomach getting rock hard, and it felt swollen about two days later. I could feel it filling up with fluid.
“I looked dreadful. It was getting bigger but when I went back to see the surgeon he said it was normal.
‘I HAD EMERGENCY SURGERY TO DRAIN FLUID’
“He drained 12 syringes of fluid from my stomach but sent me away, telling me it was normal.
“But when I got home six days later I started to suffer flu-like symptoms and blotchy skin.
“I called NHS 111. They sent me to hospital and I had emergency surgery to drain litres of infected fluid from the wound.”
Sheriah stayed at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, for nearly four weeks and was readmitted twice more in the following months because of repeat infections.
She says: “I could barely leave the house for months. I was off work completely until January and even then I could only go back half days. I only returned to work properly in April.
“I have felt constantly tired and have lived on the sofa for months. I’ve been very run down.
“I can’t do many of the things I used to do and I’ve put on 10lb because I’m so inactive. I have felt very depressed. The wound is now about 1cm wide as it has to be left to heal up on its own.
“A district nurse was visiting every day for three months to pack the wound and since then I’ve been dressing it myself. It’s horrendous.
“I had expected to recover long before now.”
Sheriah now wants to warn others of the risks of having cosmetic surgery abroad.
She says: “I hated how my stomach looked. and thought I’d get it sorted, but really it wasn’t worth it.
“It’s so dangerous. I don’t think people realise what can go wrong.
“It’s safer to pay extra and choose a good surgeon here in Britain. No one should do what I did — it was awful. It’s like a game of Russian roulette and it could kill you.
“If other women are unhappy with their bodies, I’d ask them if it’s really worth it. Love who you are.
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“But if you really do want to go ahead, then get it done in the UK and research your surgeon properly.
“It will cost more but you can’t put a price on your health.
“If I’d known what I’d go through I’d never have gone ahead with it.”