At three months pregnant, Sarah Buller noticed that her left leg was beginning to swell.
By the time the 31-year-old model had given birth, the limb had ballooned to twice its normal size – and it has never gone back down.
Doctors eventually diagnosed Sarah, originally from Perth, with an incurable condition called primary lymphodema, which causes swelling in the body’s tissues.
The lymph fluid in the mother-of-two’s leg struggles to circulate properly, something which was triggered by her pregnancy, leaving her left leg weighing 12.7kg and in constant need of tight bandaging, compression socks and regular massages.
“It was like one day I went to bed with two normal legs and the next morning I woke up and had one huge leg in comparison,” Sarah says. “I guess we all just hoped the swelling would go down after birth.
But the bigger my bump got the bigger my leg got too and it just never went back.”
— The Bump (@thebump) August 23, 2016
After being told that there was nothing that would help her situation, Sarah began researching her options and, in May this year, sold the family car and spent more than $22,000 on a surgery that sees healthy lymph nodes taken from the armpit and inserted into her leg.
The ordeal has prompted the full-time mum, who is now based in France, to write a blog, Lymphosaurus Rex, to help other sufferers, and raise awareness about the condition – and the possible treatments.
— 7News Yahoo7 (@Y7News) August 24, 2016
“When I was first diagnosed it was like, ‘hey, you have a huge leg, it’s going to be that way forever’,” Sarah explains. “I was never told about surgeries or options that could make a huge difference.
“The surgery takes minimum one year to start working and see significant results but I’ve seen a huge difference already.
“I’d recommend anyone to explore the different options for the conditions, I’m never giving up and although there’s not a cure yet, I believe I will beat this condition.”