Woman receives life-saving transplant after nose ring infection 'killed' her liver: 'She was in dire straits'


A woman in Queens New York is thankful to be alive after she became gravely ill with liver failure from a tiny piercing in her nose.

Doctors believe that the nose piercing was the source of a hepatitis B infection that injured 37-year-old Dana Smith’s liver, causing brain swelling and other life-threatening complications, TODAY reported. The illness became so severe that Smith eventually required a liver transplant.

“If I would have waited another day (to get help), my chances of survival were very, very thin,” Smith said.

“She was in such dire straits,” added Dr. Lew Teperman, director of organ transplantation at Northwell Health in Long Island, New York. “It was a miracle that we were able to get a liver in time.”

Smith, who was in good health before her piercing, decided to get the nose ring last Thanksgiving. She had known people who had gone to the shop before, and had no immediate concerns about cleanliness or safety.

“I didn't have any irritation, no redness anything,” she said after getting the nose ring. “I didn't have any issues with the actual piercing itself.”

In January, Smith started having stomach pains.

“But this was for a couple days — I just couldn't hold down anything,” Smith said. “(Then) I started to throw up blood.”

Smith was taken to the hospital and immediately put into a medically induced coma due to a Hepatitis B infection that caused brain swelling and seizures. She woke up three days later with a new liver.

“She responded overwhelmingly to the virus and her body was working on clearing it, but it killed her liver,” Teperman said.

Smith does not blame the body piercing studio, but believes the infection got into her system through the open sound sometime after the stud was inserted. She is encouraging everyone to get the hepatitis B vaccine, which is available to all age groups.

“I believe the large majority of these places all practice good hygiene and they should be even more vigilant now with COVID,” Teperman said. “But I did tell my daughter that I do not want her to have a nose ring.”

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram