Kelley had never heard of breast implant illness before getting her own implants. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

By Kate Harrold


THIS WOMAN’S husband had to regularly check for a pulse after BREAST IMPLANTS caused her to collapse during a TEN-YEAR struggle – which left her feeling like she was going to die.

Reiki practitioner and barre instructor, Kelley McConnell (38), from Wrightstown, Pennsylvania, USA, decided to get breast implants when she was 24 years old. Costing around £4,000 ($5,500), the implants provided Kelley with the confidence boost she was after bringing her breast size from a 34B to a 34D.

Immediately following the surgery, which took place in 2006, Kelley began to feel unwell. She felt tired and bloated, and her blood sugar levels became unstable. At the time, Kelley wasn’t worried as these symptoms can accompany a variety of common, everyday issues.

Kelley teaching her barre class in superwoman gym-wear. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

Unfortunately, Kelley’s symptoms continued to worsen and over the next 10 years, she would go on to spend £22,300 ($30,000) seeking medical advice to no avail. Kelley began to experience insomnia, food intolerances, limb numbness, tremors, light sensitivity, shortness of breath, vertigo, headaches, and heart palpitations.

Alongside this, Kelley also began to develop anxiety accompanied by panic attacks. The bloating developed into fluctuations in Kelley’s weight. At her sickest, Kelley weighed 7st 7lb – just under 1st lower than her usual weight.

At times, Kelley felt so ill that she was certain she must be dying but kept up a strong façade for the sake of her children. Kelley’s £22,300 went towards appointments with doctors and natural healers, acupuncture sessions, supplements, and massages but this only resulted in dead ends.

Kelley now embraces her natural look. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

In August 2015, Kelley was hospitalised after her tremors and muscle weakness caused her to collapse. Kelley was tested for MS – the test came back negative. Doctors decided it was a case of Dystonia which consists of harmless involuntary muscle movements or spasms.

Kelley began to collapse more often – usually twice per week – and spent three years in and out of hospital. Sometimes her husband (38) would have to check her for a pulse. During one episode, Kelley even wrote a note to her children fearing that those moments could have been her last.

In 2018, Kelley was notified about a radio-show on which they were discussing breast implant illness. As a relatively new discovery, there is no legitimate way to diagnose the condition. However, after listening anxiously and carrying out an online search, Kelley found a community of over 60,000 women sharing similar symptoms.

Kelley had the implants removed in 2018 after 12 years. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

Immediately, Kelley knew that she wanted the implants removed and in December 2018, Kelley spent £8,200 ($11,000) undergoing explant surgery. Within a few months, almost all of Kelley’s symptoms had gone and now, she feels it is her mission to help other women.

“I’d thought about getting implants for many years. I wanted to fill out my clothes a bit more. They gave me the confidence I was after,” Kelley said.

“Now that I look back, the symptoms were almost immediate. It started with chronic fatigue, bloating, inflammation, and unstable blood sugar.

Kelley said taking the implants out was the easiest decision she’d ever made. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

“Every year the symptoms would intensify and new ones would come along. I didn’t connect the dots though.

“I had over thirty symptoms including anxiety, panic attacks, chronic fatigue, adrenal dysfunction, insomnia, brain fog, chemical sensitivities, food intolerances, light sensitivity, shortness of breath, vertigo, candida, headaches, heart palpitations, histamine intolerance, tremors, inflammation, bloating, and weight gain and loss.

“Most people had no idea I was sick because I had to be strong for my children. I didn’t want them to miss out on anything.

Kelley would collapse twice a week during her worst stage. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

“I also had a full-time job in advertising and I kept working until 2017. At that point, it was no longer possible. It took all my strength just to get out of bed.

“I went to see so many specialists and doctors. I even tried the holistic route and tried massages, acupuncture and supplements. I’d stay up all night looking for answers.

“My symptoms became so bad that I ended up in the hospital after I collapsed. They sent me home with a diagnosis of involuntary movement. Despite this ‘diagnosis,’ I spent the next three years in and out of hospital.

Kelley is now opening her own healing centre to help other women. MDWfeatures / Adrianna Parsons

“I would collapse often. My husband would find me and check for a pulse. I had no idea what the cause was still. On one of my sickest nights, I wrote a note to my children. I thought I was dying. I wanted them to know how much I loved them and that I fought a hard fight.

“In 2018, I came across a radio show on breast implant illness and after a short internet search, I found countless women with experiences like me. What happened to me wasn’t a rare occurrence.

“As soon as I heard about breast implant illness, I knew I wanted the implants out immediately.”

Kelley researched for hours to find out what was wrong with her after a £22,300 search ended in only dead ends. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

Kelley shared her experiences online and was immediately flooded with hundreds of messages from women with almost identical stories. Whilst she still suffers from some ongoing gut health issues, Kelley feels much better. She now hopes to open her own healing centre.

“My goal is to spread the word and inform other women of the potential risks of breast implants,” Kelley said.

“I don’t want to scare anyone but some people may have implants and be experiencing these symptoms. It’s important to know what’s causing them. Likewise, it’s useful to know what to look out for.

Kelley said the hardest part about her ordeal was faking being okay for the sake of her children. MDWfeatures / @bii_awareness

“The pain I went through can’t compare to the joy I feel in my soul each time I’m able to help another woman.

“The hardest part of my journey was the guilt I felt for not allowing my children to have a healthy mum. I had to fake being well for them and it took everything out of me.

“Taking out the implants was the easiest decision I’ve ever made. I knew I’d miss how I looked but I wanted to be healthy again.

“I can now find purpose in the pain. I’m opening a healing centre this autumn. A healer’s gift is her own wound. Once you’ve learnt to heal yourself, you can heal others. I look at my journey as a gift.”