SHALIMAR, Fla., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A Florida woman misdiagnosed with lupus, arthritis and thyroid problems said a doctor found the true cause of her illness: moldy breast implants.
Anne Ziegenhorn of Shalimar said she started experiencing symptoms including weight gain, vision loss and burning pain in 2011 and doctors offered a series of diagnoses including lupus, arthritis and thyroid problems -- all of which were later proven false.
"I felt like that was it, I was gonna die, and the doctors were gonna let me die," Ziegenhorn told WEAR-TV.
"After going through what I've gone through -- hundreds and thousands of dollars in medical bills, I've lost my career. It was taxing on our marriage," she told WPSD-TV.
Dr. Susan Kolb, author of "The Naked Truth About Breast Implants," gave Ziegenhorn a different diagnosis that was later proven true: Her saline breast implants, which she obtained in 1998 and are in silicone shells, were covered in mold.
"Silicone sickness in and of itself is one entity. And then you add the mold to it that we had, and then you've got two illnesses going on," Ziegenhorn said.
Kolb said she has seen numerous cases of moldy implants, which often result from defective valves.
"My experience in doing this for 30 years is that eventually everybody will become ill from their breast implants, unless they die sooner from something else," Kolb said.
The doctor, who said she has implants herself, recommended women replace their implants every eight to 15 years for safety.
Ziegenhorn and other survivors formed a group called "The Implant Truth Survivors Committee" to educate women and doctors about the dangers of moldy implants.
"I literally willed myself to live and willed myself to get this message out here This is my purpose, this is why I'm here," she said.