IT WAS the moment time froze for Kym McEwan as her body turned numb in terror.
She tried to pinch herself, hoping it was just an awful nightmare she could wake up from.
But this was very real.
She was with a hospital doctor, her scan results laid bare before her eyes, confirming her worst fears.
Then came the medic’s carefully chosen words which would haunt her for the next year.
He gently informed her both her breast implants had burst – one had even split in two parts leaving her with industrial silicone oozing around her body.
The non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses had collected in her lymph nodes causing lumps.
It explained the horrific health problems the 31-year-old had been suffering including burning chest pains, depression, memory loss, arthritic pains, numb limbs and hair loss.
As the doctor spoke, her racing mind turned to her three-year-old son Reggie.
What if her breast implants had ruptured while she was pregnant and the liquid silicone had made its way to the tiny foetus in her tummy?
What if she could never hug him tightly against her chest ever again?
And then came the questions: When did the implants burst? Why? What would happen now? Would she even be able to enjoy Christmas with her family?
The questions kept coming but she was unable to answer any of them.
Yet as emotional turmoil engulfed her, Kym’s thought processes somehow presented the only rational option: she would have to get the implants removed.
Kym had already suffered too much to simply accept her plight.
Indeed, she was just 17 years old when she resorted to breast enlargement after bullies made her life hell because she was flat-chested.
It was 14 years ago but memories of the bullying had never left her.
On one humiliating occasion her work colleagues brought in a Barbie bra and joked that it would be too big for her.
Then there was the time they all wore flat pack cardboard on their fronts, drew on nipples and wrote “my name is Kym.”
Even the surgeon told her she was not even a cup size at her initial consultation.
So she was thrilled with the £2,500 operation which made her a B cup but seven years later she suffered from severe capsular contracture – the immune system’s reaction to surgery which causes the breasts and nipples to distort.
It meant in 2006 she had to have another operation – this time at the Harley Medical Group clinic in London and she saved up £5,200 to become a 32DD.
But what she was not told was that her implants were made by a French company called Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) from substandard silicone.
And Kym could never imagine that she would later be at the centre of a world-wide health scare when the French government urged women to have their implants removed after a spate of PIP ruptures.
When news broke in the UK last year that more than 40,000 women had been using the implants, Kym fought to find out whether her implants were made by PIP, which has since closed.
Tearful Kym, said: “All I ever wanted was to have boobs, to feel feminine and confident but I never knew I would pay such a high price.
“I never signed up to putting industrial and toxic products in my body, nobody in their right mind would have done that.
“When I was told they were PIP and they had ruptured, I went numb. It was sheer panic. I feared what would happen.
“Silicone has been released everywhere in my body.
“Now I have no idea what this will mean for my future or my son’s future.
“I keep thinking what if they were leaking when I was carrying my son. It can’t be good for a tiny foetus “I just wanted to get them out.”
But each of Kym’s desperate attempts to get her implants removed hit a brick wall.
She claimed Harley Medical Group, which carried out the surgery, refused to give her a scan or replace her implants for free – quoting her thousands of pounds.
Kym successfully got her MP involved but his letters did not help.
The London-based firm then entered administration.
Eventually the NHS agreed to refer her for a CAT scan which proved she had suffered a rupture.
She was placed on a six month NHS waiting list, but even then surgeons would only remove the implants – and not replace them or repair the excess skin.
Full-time mum Kym, who lives with her fiancé Steve Dickson in Warsash, said: “The fact is if the NHS just took out the implants and stitched the skin up, I would look deformed because I have no breast tissue at all. They point blank told me no.”
As months passed her symptoms got worse.
She developed mysterious lumps under her arms and her left nipple even turned black.
“I couldn’t sleep because I was so upset that this ticking time bomb was inside me and I knew it was spewing out silicone. The fact I kept hitting a brick wall made me feel so angry and upset.
“I felt no one really cared and all the while I was suffering these horrendous symptoms and fearing what would happen next.
“The thing I can’t understand is that I didn’t exactly get them on the cheap. I paid a lot of money and I thought I was getting the best of the best but in reality I felt worthless.
“If I was a car I would be more important than a human being because if I was a faulty product they would replace what was wrong.”
And then her luck turned.
As Kym scoured the Internet for information she discovered a Facebook group called the PIP Action Campaign where women shared their experiences.
Within weeks a member had contacted top plastic surgeon Adrian Richards, the founder and Clinical Director of small independent company Aurora Clinics who has removed 260 PIP implants from women in the past year.
He was so fearful her physical and mental health was in danger he pledged to remove the implants and replace them free just before Christmas.
Sobbing uncontrollably, she said: “He decided we have suffered enough. It was just relief. He was the first person who cared, the first who really listened.
“I instantly felt safe and knew he wanted to help.
“Adrian is like my personal Santa and he is amazing. I hope everyone can find their own Adrian.”
Kym went under the knife just days before Christmas and she is still in pain from the surgery and is devastated she has been unable to play with her three-year-old Reggie.
Recovering at home Kym said she was shocked to see her breast implant had split in two.
She said: “When they held up the bag and showed me the implants after the operation I thought that was both breast implants but it was only one- it had split clean in two inside me. I didn’t dream it would be that bad. I was completely shocked but at the same time utterly relieved they were no longer in my body.”
She still fears about the effects of silicone in her body, especially because she still has lumps of the material in her lymph nodes and her worst fears are that her son Reggie could later show signs of being affected.
But having the surgery has meant she can finally put many of her fears to the back of her mind and focus on having a happy 2013.
Kym and Steve - an aircraft painter who emotionally explained he has been too frightened to touch his fiancée - say they are now planning to have more children and get married.
Kym, said: “Last year was hell. It has been depressing, miserable, stressful.
“We had to put everything on hold. We wanted nothing more than Reggie to have a little brother or sister but of course we didn’t want to have any more children while there was this horrible stuff in my body. This operation was the best Christmas present ever. It means our life can start again.
We can start trying for a family and we are hoping to have a magical winter wedding.
I already feel better in my head knowing my PIP implants are gone.
For me it is over now.
“I am still in pain from the operation but I am feeling better already.
“It is a New Year, new me and new boobs.”
Kym hopes her case can act as a warning to others in light of the scandal.
She said: “Like me there are so many women being ignored but they need to fight to get their implants out, they have got to come out and when I heal I will not give up fighting either.”
Dr Richards, who carried out the surgery, said: “No one knows the long term effects of the low grade silicone on the body.
“I stepped in to help because I felt Kym had so many medical problems and no one was listening to her or answering her questions.
“I was happy to provide my surgical services free of charge so she could move on with her life.
“She has had a really hard deal and has been very unlucky so I hope this is third time lucky for her.”