Hi, my name is Terri Diaz. I am a breast implant illness survivor. Thank you for the chance to tell my story.
At 38-years-old, I was living the best life. I had a thriving business, I was in shape, I ate right, and I felt and looked my best. The only thing missing were the breasts I had before nursing my three beautiful boys.
So, in 2006, I opted to have breast implants placed. My plastic surgeon chose Mentor high-profile saline implants.
He told me that the implants were completely safe and that they were lifetime devices. He emphasized that they were the safe saline implants, and the only real complication would be rupture if I was to have a high-impact injury to my chest.
Within months of implant surgery, I started having symptoms such as migraines and unexplained weight gain despite my healthy lifestyle. I started then having flu-like symptoms that I could not relieve. The symptoms kept accumulating. I was referred to countless doctors of various specialties.
By the 6-year post-implant, I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune illnesses. I was completely bedridden, waiting to die. I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs. Not one of the medical professionals that examined me considered my implants as the cause of my illnesses.
Luckily, my life-long friend, a science researcher, suggested that it could be my implants. I started researching and found a website and Facebook group that had at the time 3,000 members, all who had some variation of my symptoms.
It was from these women, not the doctors, not the manufacturers or the FDA, that I was educated on this disease and how to properly do explant surgery.
From seeing the desperation of women looking for answers for their illnesses, decided to facilitate a local illness group. That was almost 3 years ago.
My group, Breast Implant Illness Florida Support Group, grows by the hundreds every month. Not only am I telling my story, but I’m here representing them. I am inboxed daily by hopeless women, many who’ve lost thriving careers with no finances and unable to afford healthcare.
This health crisis affects all of us and has been going on for decades. The other multiple groups on social media that I’m involved with, they grow by the hundreds daily, totaling nearly 150,000 women.
Breast implant illness has cost me everything. I had to close my thriving business. I’m in the process of being accepted into a Chapter 13 and home loan modification, but I still may lose my home. I can no longer afford health insurance and cannot afford medical care.
Today, I am no longer bedridden, and I’m about 85% better. The only medical procedure I had was the explantation of my implants. I lost 10 years of my life due to safe implants. My symptoms are up there. Those are the ones that are gone since I’ve explanted.
My plea to you is this: informed consent; provide a black box warning on all breast implants, mandatory; patient information booklet; doctor-patient checklist; chemical data transparency; and mandatory testing for BIA-ALCL for all women explanting.
I appreciate your time. I know you are hearing us. Thank you.
[Open public comment given by breast implant recipient Terri Diaz at the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel on March 25, 2019. The title of this article does not constitute part of the speaker’s comment to the FDA and any hyperlinks or text appearing in brackets were added for clarity or ease of use by editors.]