A Norfolk woman has spoken of her “total nightmare” since discovering that her PIP breast implants have ruptured and her fears for not only her own health but that of her unborn baby.

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Asha Rama-Rabone, 25, said she cannot afford to have the implants removed and replaced and she feels she has a ticking time bomb inside of her.

She had endured weeks of stress since discovering the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) implants had ruptured when, on Christmas Eve, she found out she was pregnant.

Miss Rama-Rabone, who lives in Fakenham, estimates she is six weeks’ pregnant. The baby was not planned and she was using contraception.

She said that she and her boyfriend are very happy to be having a baby but extremely concerned that the ruptured implants are affecting the baby’s health.

A surgeon has told her that medication she will need to take during the operation to replace and remove the implants could pose potential risks to the baby.

Miss Rama-Rabone said she is at her wits’ end and does not know where to turn.

She saved for two years for the implants and wanted them for as long as she can remember.

She said: “I was completely flat and I felt very self conscious about my appearance. I just wanted to feel happy in myself.”

Miss Rama-Rabone spent almost £4,000 having the implants inserted in 2008.

In December 2010 she noticed lumps appearing under her left arm pit, which expanded over the next two months, so she went to see her GP.

She was initially told there was nothing to worry about but later discovered that her implants had ruptured on both sides.

Miss Rama-Rabone said: “It took almost a year to discover what was causing these lumps. The NHS offered to remove but not replace the implants.

“But I didn’t want to have another operation that would leave me flat-chested and covered in scars. I would feel like a freak and I would be traumatised.”

Miss Rama-Rabone contacted Linia Cosmetic Surgery, the company which inserted the implants, and was told about the PIP health scare.

French firm PIP went out of business in 2010 after an official probe revealed it was using cheaper unapproved industrial-grade silicone in some of its products.

The scandal has prompted a review of whether tighter regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry is needed and a review into the safety and quality of private clinics offering cosmetic surgery in Britain.

It is thought that around 40,000 women in the UK have the PIP implants and there are fears that they could lead to breast cancer. The government has said there is no cancer risk.

Miss Rama-Rabone believes that Linia should remove and replace the implants free of charge as the problems started before the end of the three year warranty period she had with them.

Linia say they were first notified of the problems on November 25 last year, which is outside the three years, and has offered to do the operation for £1,800.

Miss Rama-Rabone is particularly angry about the fact that a warning over the PIP implants had appeared on the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) website in February but PIP had not contacted its customers to inform them.

A spokesman for Linia said: “Implants used in Asha were not known to be faulty at the time of insertion. In fact not all PIP implants are known to be faulty and no one knows what percentage and batches are faulty.

“Linia did not contact all of its patients in February last year because that would have caused unnecessary alarm and panic. The MHRA has still not recommended that all PIP implants need to be removed and all the tests done by MHRA show no link to toxicity or cancer. Had we written to all of our patients we would have not followed good medical practise and would have created stress and alarm for everyone.”

Linia has written to Miss Rama-Rabone advising that the risks of operating during pregnancy needed to be discussed with her GP.

The company has also advised her to postpone a holiday to India which is booked for next month as they say flying could have potential risks in her current situation, but Miss Rama-Rabone still plans to go.

She said: “This holiday has been planned for two years. If I don’t go now I will never get the chance to go again. I would not get my money back and would be left hanging around for an operation that probably won’t happen anyway because I can’t afford it. If I had the money, I would pay.”

She added: “Nobody seems to know what the risks are. I’m watching the news for new revelations each day but different experts keep saying different things. It is a total nightmare.

“Linia say it is not their fault but they put the implants in so they should sort it out.”

A statement on the Linia website says: “PIP implant failure is not an issue of poor surgical performance or unsatisfactory aftercare. It is an issue of massive regulatory failure by the government and its agencies. We used implants that were approved for use by MHRA.

“Linia and its surgeons, and for that matter all surgeons NHS or private, have no control over deciding if a breast implant or any other device should be licensed or not. It is MHRA which decides that whether an implant or a device has passed what we the surgeon and the public expect to be a rigorous test to show that the device is safe and fit to use on patients.”

Miss Rama-Rabone, who works as an admin clerk at the Kinnerton chocolate factory in Fakenham, has sought legal advice.

She hopes to resolve the situation after she returns home from India and she said she may have to take out a loan and have the operation done by another company.

*The EDP and its sister paper the Evening News will be hosting a web chat and on-line question and answer session today to help women affected by the PIP breast implant scandal.

Norfolk and Norwich University consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon Elaine Sassoon will be answering questions and offering advice.

Miss Sassoon is council member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras) and has been chairman of its breast subcommittee for the past seven years.

The web chat will be from 12pm until 1pm at www.edp24.co.uk

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