A teacher has told how she nearly died when she suffered two strokes after having her LIP pierced.
Joanne Avis, 37, had a stud fitted but it became infected and bacteria in her bloodstream penetrated her heart.
She was left unable to walk, speak or swallow and was rushed to hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery to rebuild her heart as her life hung in the balance.
Medics told her the lip piercing at a tattoo parlour in south Birmingham had caused a dangerous heart infection called endocarditis.
Joanne, who teaches life skills to college students with learning difficulties, made a miraculous recovery and now raises money for stroke charities.
She has now spoken for the first time about her trauma which happened when she was aged 26.
She said: “I almost died. If I hadn’t gone to hospital after the stroke, I would have died.
“I was told that I would never teach again.
“It changed my life irreversibly forever, and although I will always count myself as a survivor and not a victim, it is very hard.”
“I am still in a lot of pain and get tired easily.
“If I can warn one person about the dangers of getting a piercing, and that might save their life, then that is enough.”
“The tattoo parlour was clean and tidy. There was nothing wrong about their practices so I don’t blame them.
“It wasn’t a bad tattoo parlour. It was just bad luck I got the infection.”
Joanne suffered the twin strokes in May and June 2004 and spent more than three months in Telford Hospital.
She then needed a further 18 months rehabilitating at home with her parents before she could finally return to living independently.
Joanne, who lives with fiancé Stuart Vincent, 44, in Northfield, Birmingham, is raising money for other stroke sufferers.
She sold arts and crafts for £1500 for the After Life Stroke Centre in Bromsgrove, Worcs., which has helped her rebuild her life since 2004.
She added: “Life as a stroke survivor is really tough.
“I didn’t know anything about it before it happened to me, I associated it with old people.
“But I know that it is happening to babies, teenagers and pregnant women, and is the biggest cause of disability in the country.
“That is why it is vital that people recognise the signs.
“If I hadn’t have been in hospital, I would have died.”