P.J. Brent, 49, launched crusade against breast implants
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
June 2, 2000
Stephania H. Davis, Staff
The last movie P.J. Brent saw was "Erin Brockovich," the story of an ordinary woman who excelled at getting money from a big corporation for people poisoned by toxins.
Mrs. Brent found her own poison to fight against right under her skin. The
breast implants she received in 1982 --- which she believed caused her
health problems and those of her two youngest children --- led her to
launch a worldwide crusade against implants.
"She had been in Washington testifying and on CNN Headline News and in
newspapers and on radio, all in an effort to say don't let women have
breast implants, because it killed her," said her husband, Ed Brent of
Patricia Jeanne "P.J." Brent, 49, of Sandy Springs, died Monday from
injuries sustained when she jumped from a Dunwoody parking garage. The
funeral was Thursday. Sandy Springs Chapel Funeral Directors was in charge
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Mrs. Brent moved to Atlanta in 1983 and met
her second husband when both worked for Delta Airlines. Mrs. Brent had
started with the company as a flight attendant a few years after high
Shortly after she and Mr. Brent married in 1984, she began suffering from a
connective tissue disease.
"She told me on a good day it felt like you were getting out of bed with
the flu," said Mr. Brent. "You know, that achy, draggy feeling." Mrs. Brent
was already the mother of four healthy children, but her fifth child, born in 1985, has gastrointestinal problems that make it difficult for her to swallow. Her sixth child has constant stomach problems, aching legs and mysterious rashes, said her husband. It became clear to Mrs. Brent, her
husband said, that the toxins the children ingested from breast-feeding was the cause.
"One of my daughters sleeps in leg braces and walks like a drunk because she has no feeling in her feet," said Mr. Brent. "But her mother gave her such self-esteem. She doesn't think there's anything she can't do."
After reading a newspaper article describing her symptoms perfectly, Mrs. Brent had the implants removed in 1992. Still, guilt and concern about the
effect the implants had on her children lingered.
"She struggled with the fact that her poor decision affected her children," said her friend Elna Sheetz of Sandy Springs.
Mrs. Brent joined Children Afflicted by Toxic Substances (CATS), which provides information about children whose mothers had breast implants. Mrs.
Brent and the organization were featured in a 1995 article in Redbook
Even as her various disorders sapped her strength, she spent hours in e-
mail conversations with women all over the globe looking for information on
She also car pooled for her children and volunteered at her church.
"She had this angelic personality. She was a very sweet and caring woman
who took the time to listen and get back to people and make sure they got
the information they needed," said Jama Russano of Northport, N.Y., founder
"But it's difficult to fight a battle when you're sick yourself. She must
have felt that she exhausted everything she had."
Survivors other than her husband include four daughters, Catherine Brent
and Chrissy Brent, both of Sandy Springs, and Jennifer Kohnen and Jessica
Kohnen, both of New York; two sons, Philip Kohnen of Sandy Springs and
Martin Kohnen of Athens; a stepdaughter, Monica Brent of Athens; her
mother, Florence Driscoll of Hawthorne, N.J.; her father and stepmother,
Joseph F. and Mildred Caren of Tampa; a sister, Kathleen M. Caren of West
Milford, N.J.; and two brothers, Joseph F. Caren Jr. of Tampa and Thomas M.
Caren of Saddle River, N.J.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to Children
Afflicted by Toxic Substances, 413 Fort Salonga Road, Northport, NY 11768.
P.J. Brent moved to Atlanta in 1983 and worked for Delta Airlines.
By GARDINER HARRIS
April 12, 2005
Ed Brent of Atlanta told the panel that his wife, P. J. Brent, committed suicide in 2000, two months after testifying at a previous hearing on implants. Ms. Brent believed that her silicone implants had seeped into her breast milk and sickened her two children, Mr. Brent said. The five children she had before the implants are healthy, he added.
"P. J. felt terrible guilt that her two daughters had been so seriously harmed by her decision to get breast implants," Mr. Brent said.
To the Editor of the New York Post:
In the recent article about breast implants an "expert in implant problems" is quoted as saying:
"I've seen a couple women with moldy
implants, but that's very, very rare," says Marguerite Barnett, a plastic surgeon in Venice, Fla., and an expert in implant problems. "When we first started taking implants out in the early 1990s lawyers would have them boxed up. After sitting in a closet they'll grow mold but that's not the condition they're in when they come out of the women."
My question to this "expert" is this:
Would not the environment of the human breast, 98.6 degrees and filled with body fluid, be more conducive for the implant to grow mold in or on it than if the implant was boxed up and sitting in a closet at room temperature of 72 degrees ?
I am one of those "very, very rare" women who had the black fungi in her implant (aspergillus niger).
What is more disturbing is that I nursed my two daughters while implanted with these contaminated implants. My children suffer from gastroesopageal disorders as well as a rare neurological disease.
I believe it is time for these plastic
surgeons to stop trying to justify a very
defective product, breast implants, and
start helping these sick women and children.
Does "First Do No Harm" not mean anything to these so-called physicians?
As a mother it means something to me.
Patricia J. Brent