A 21-year-old dancer was left on the brink of death after being fitted with a pacemaker which should have saved her life, but instead infected her with a killer bug.
Mikayla Meres, of Altamonte Springs, Florida, shared shocking photos of herself "hanging on by a thread" in hospital after bacteria on the device sent her into septic shock.
She suffers from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which caused erratic heartbeat and was forced to give up modern and contemporary dance aged 17 as a result.
Doctors said surgery to implant a heart rate-regulating pacemaker might fix the problem and Meres hoped it would help her get back up on stage.
But within 48 hours of the operation last November, she was in agony and unable to move with endocarditis, an infection in her heart valve, which had turned septic.
Medics removed the device but that caused the infection to spread to the rest of her body, causing her to gain 40 lbs. of fluid and her vital organs to began to fail.
Miraculously, Meres defied the odds to battle back with the help of antibiotics, and she finally returned home earlier this year after six months in hospital.
Tragically she is no longer able to dance due to ongoing problems with her heart, but has vowed to live life to the fullest, and wants to inspire others to do the same.
"The pacemaker was supposed to help save my life but instead it did the complete opposite," Meres said. "I was so optimistic going in to get it fitted. I thought I was finally on the right road and that it would really change things."
"But afterwards I started having pain at the pacemaker site and fluids were coming out," she said. "Within two days I was completely disabled, unable to move, eat, drink or go to the bathroom. Part of me knew I was dying."
"They said I shouldn't have survived it," Meres said. "They didn't believe I was going to. Now I'm trying to live my life more than I did before because it really scared me."
"I'm still in pain 24/7, but I have told myself I'm going to go to work and I'm going to do everything I wanted to do before this all happened," she said.
Meres loved contemporary, modern and lyrical dance through high school and enjoyed performing in shows in her hometown.
In addition to her heart problems the youngster suffers from endometriosis, a painful condition where the tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows on the outside. Her ongoing health issues forced her o study from home and cut her hours working as a barista.
She was diagnosed with lupus, where the immune system attacks its own tissues, in December and has suspected multiple sclerosis.
Despite her ailing health Meres has vowed to battle through the pain and plans to enroll in college to become a nurse or child psychologist.
She also dreams of one day being able to dance again.
"I loved being able to tell a story and express emotion through movement," Meres said. "It made me really happy. When I got sick I hoped that one day I would get better and start dancing again."
"I'm still hoping one day I'll find the right treatments that'll make it possible again," she said. "I'm fighting for my life all the time and it is exhausting, but whenever you are at your lowest and don't believe you can last another second, you can."
"There were so many times when I thought, 'I can't do this any more,' but I am still here," Meres said. "I'm very very stubborn and I'm going to be here for as long as I physically can be. I'm not going to give up."