After almost losing her life to sepsis, Kia Brazil, from Wisconsin, has beaten the odds and gone on to achieved greater things after the life-threatening illness caused her to become a quadruple amputee.
The 29-year-old suffered a stomach infection which turned septic and eventually cost her her legs and fingers which had turned black and could not be saved.
However, since enduring these hardships and becoming stronger in the process, Kia is now determined to use her experiences as a positive, and has started a modelling career.
She says she hopes to demonstrate that everyone is beautiful regardless of how they look.
Kia has been signed with a modelling agency for models with disabilities for over a year.
“When I was first approached by the agency I was in shock and couldn’t believe it was real. I was so excited,” Kia said.
“Due to coronavirus the work has been slower recently, but things are picking up again now, which is amazing.
“I want to use my modelling career to help shine a brighter light over people who are afraid to show themselves or be themselves because of an illness or disability.
“I want people to know that everyone is different, and everyone is beautiful no matter what.
“We don’t have to look a particular way to be perfect. Everyone is perfect in their own unique way.”
After experiencing extreme stomach pains out of the blue, Kia was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that a stomach infection had become septic and was causing her complete organ failure.
“My sister who was at the hospital with me was told to call all of my family as it wasn’t looking good,” the model shared.
“After the emergency surgery on my stomach, this is when it was they found the sepsis and told my family that all of my organs were quickly failing.
“They thought I was in my last moments and my family prepared to say goodbye.”
Doctors said there was nothing else they could do to help Kia. “My family begged for a second opinion and weren’t ready to just give up,” she said.
Kia was transferred to a different hospital for another surgery, by which time she had already suffered two heart attacks.
“Doctors had said that I had less than a 1 percent chance of making it through this,” she said.
During her second surgery, doctor’s were racing to get as much blood as possible to her vital organs such as her heart and her brain. As a result, less blood was going to her limbs, causing them to die.
Kia’s right leg was her first limb to be amputated in a bid to save her life, and she was then placed in an induced coma for 14 days.
“They told me that I was the sickest person in ICU at that time,” she said.
“The coma allowed me to gain the strength to pull through, however when I woke up, I didn’t know that my leg had been amputated.
“I just felt thankful to still be alive.
“My other limbs were still there at this point, but they were black, dead, lifeless and flat.
“They looked awful,” she said, and she didn’t want her kids, Madyson, 10, and King, 5, to see them like that.
Kia would always wear socks to cover her lifeless limbs when her kids came to visit her. So she told the doctors she wanted them amputated as well.
“I needed them to be gone so that I could focus on healing,” Kia added. “So I had my left leg and fingers all amputated.
“I underwent a total of 28 surgeries and I was in the hospital for a combined time of six months.”
Kia also underwent a full hysterectomy and lost most of her stomach.
After losing both legs and her fingers, as well as losing the use of her right arm, Kia was tasked with figuring out a new way of living for herself and her children.
She says that when they saw her after her amputations they were scared, but happy that she was alive.
“It has been tough on my kids too. I have always been a hands-on and active mom, so this was going to be very different for us,” Kia said.
“It has been an incredibly hard journey but we made it.
She said that after having her amputations, she actually felt “replenished” because of the “awful condition” her body was in beforehand.
“I wanted to just be as normal as possible,” she adds. “I have a whole new respect for my amazing body after watching it heal from everything it has been through.
“I got prosthetics around a year after my amputations, but I do love my stumps. I mostly get around on a wheelchair or scoot about on my bum.
“I have had to learn a whole new set of survival skills, I am so much stronger than I have ever been.”
Kia believes that surviving sepsis has forced her to grow as a person and has completely changed her perspective on life.
Adds Kia, “I am so much more appreciative and grateful for the most simple things.
“I am so glad I had the strength to pull through.”
Kia has written a book, “Surviving Sepsis,” about her experience which is due to come out in May this year.
It will be available on her website.