this is "nightline." >> tonight, gyp sing gold rush. everybody's scrambling to get their hands on this root that's worth its weight in gold. the journey from the woods to store is a dangerous one. we're here for the opportunity to hit a jackpot. these "botched" doctors can help you get the body of your dreams or fix if things didn't so well. >> you're what we call grade 4 droopiness. >> reporter: when one woman went in for a nose job they never expected to save her life. hello kitty cafe. first there was the merchandise. then the conventions. and now our national obsession with all things hello kitty is sweeter than ever. first the "nightline 5." >> it takes a lot of work to run this business. i really love it.
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chang joined the dangerous journey on the hunt to strike gold. >> reporter: in the backwoods of west virginia in what my guide calls hillbilly country, we are on a hunt. >> where are we? what mountains are we in? >> appalachian. >> reporter: we're with mountain man rufus kuehne, searching for something that's been part of the appalachian culture for hundreds of years. part of its history. >> daniel boone was digging it out of kentucky, got $80,000 out of what he dug. >> reporter: now worth its weight in gold. then out of the blue -- there it is. >> right there by your feet. all of this is ginseng. there's the three prongs. see all these? >> that's amazing. >> jimmy: ginseng. >> reporter: a plant root long considered a natural aphrodisiac and cure-all in asia. it's been highly coveted there for thousands of years. >> oh my goodness, look at that. >> reporter: i grew up hearing
about its mythical properties from my very korean parents. >> i grew up hearing about all the fabulous, miraculous ginseng cures. so this is the body, the stalk. the gnarly roots are desirable? >> right. >> reporter: this root can retail up to $15,000 per pound in upscale asian boutiques. and it's set off a black market. investigators in west virginia confiscating more than 400 pounds of illegally harvested ginseng over the past few years. they say its street value, over $5 million. and along with it, all sorts of other contraband. ginseng hunting, as the locals call it senging, is legal as long as it's done properly at the right time of year. but with prices so high the cash crop can attract unsavory characters. >> oh my god, you have a shotgun. >> reporter: tony kaufmann and his family started dealing in ginseng in the 19520s.
he's a classic middleman. >> oh my goodness. do i really want to do this? oh my gosh. this is like monopoly money. holy mackerel. you know they have banks? >> reporter: when the asian economies were soaring two years back, tony had a banner year. >> we probably did close to a couple million dollars we handed out to the public. >> a couple million dollars walking around in west virginia? that's pretty good. >> reporter: ginseng grows wild from south appalachia to canada. the ginseng gold rush is causing a huge problem for law enforcement who are tracking down on illegal harvesting. >> what are we seeing here? this is huge amounts of ginseng. >> yeah. it's thousands and thousands and thousands of plants that will never be able to reproduce this year. >> reporter: this illegal ginseng, seized from poachers, is harvested from fragile plants
on public lands, out of season, destroying the roots forever, and threatening wild ginseng with extinction. >> how seriously do you take this offense? >> pretty seriously. if things keep going at the rate they're going, within 10, 15 years we won't have any ginseng left. so they're putting a pretty good hurt on it. >> reporter: they use former ginseng poachers as confidential informants to turn the tide. >> it would scare you if you knew what i made. >> reporter: we agreed not to show his face and to alter his voice. >> it's not the diggers that's really killing this, it's the people buying it. because they're funding their drugs. i mean, a lot of the people in these communities are selling their ginseng for drugs. trading for pills. you know. these guys will take a pound of dried ginseng and trade it for
dope. >> reporter: the popularity of reality shows like "duck dynasty" has made hillbilly culture trendy. authorities say shows like "smoky mountain money" -- >> make piles of money if you do it right. it's a gold mine. >> reporter: and "appalachian outlaws" on the history channel -- >> the first man that finds it and digs it, that's who it belongs to, and that's going to be me. >> reporter: are fanning the flames of the appalachian ginseng gold rush. >> all that's ginseng. >> my mother would be thrilled to be here right now. >> it's wild. >> reporter: rufus kuehne, born and bred in these mountains, is one of the colorful characters on "appalachian outlaws." >> this is pretty good sized. >> reporter: his family has lived on this land since the 1800s. now he lives in fear of ginseng poachers. >> how do you protect your property? >> it's hard to. somebody's got to stay here all the time. if i go somewhere, my wife has to be here.
we can't leave. >> you don't leave the property intended? >> no, we left last time to go to georgia because her daddy had a heart attack in '97. i had seng in here that was this tall all over the place. in three days while we was gone they dug it all up. >> reporter: rufus is in the long haul, hoping this will act as a nest egg for his grandkids. >> it will probably be 15, 20 years before i think about harvesting. >> whoa, where's this one from? >> reporter: ginseng, worth about $450 a pound in west virginia, ultimately commands sky-high prices in places like ginseng and herb in new york city. depending on quality, it can sell for $15,000 a pound. because according to traditional chinese doctors, it cures just about anything. >> you're making it sound like it's a cure-all. >> ginseng is like a top medicine in all the chinese m
medici medicine. >> reporter: so far there's little science to back that up. >> do i chew on it. >> you will feel a little bit bitter, between bitter and sweet. later on, later on that sweet comes back. >> you sound like a sommelier. >> reporter: ginseng is big business. but for three generations of the anderson family back in west virginia, it is a mystical link with the past. >> the cherokee believed that only those worthy of finding it were able to see it. that ginseng possessed this ability to hide itself from those not worthy of finding it. >> reporter: kevin is teaching his kids how to harvest responsibility, just as his dad taught him. >> you're only harvesting mature plants, mature roots. you're leaving the other ones for future generations. >> reporter: the money is secondary. >> i dug some but not much. they dug most of it.
>> family outing, $324.80. >> good deal, okay. >> reporter: his daughter sam already knows what she's going to do with her share of the profits. >> i always use it for charity. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm juju chang in fayette county, west virginia. next, how this woman went to see the doctors on "botched" about a nose job. and came out with life-saving brain surgery. when i got out of the hospital after a dvt blood clot. what about my family? my li'l buddy? and what if this happened again? i was given warfarin in the hospital but i wondered if this was the right treatment for me. then my doctor told me about eliquis. eliquis treats dvt and pe blood clots and reduces the risk of them happening again. not only does eliquis treat dvt and pe blood clots, but eliquis also had significantly less major bleeding than the standard treatment. knowing eliquis had both... turned around my thinking. don't stop eliquis unless your doctor tells you to.
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>> jimmy: as plastic surgery gets more popular and less expensive some people are running into trouble with temptation. the doctors you're about to meet are trying their best on help with matters beyond the quest for the best body. that being said, even they were surprised when they ended up saving a woman's life. here's abc's matt gutman. >> you're what we call grade 4 droopiness. >> reporter: these aren't your average plastic surgery consultations. from playboy playmates -- >> i've had three boob jobs, it's hard to [ bleep ] up. >> i was born to help playmates. >> reporter: to a former supermodel.
>> what is this? >> the drain from my boobs. >> you took your drain out? this is so draws. >> oh my god, well i'm sorry, sue me. >> reporter: the doctors showcase some of the most extreme cases of plastic surgery on their e! show "botched." >> do you enjoy the challenge? >> i must say i'm a little addicted to the challenge. >> reporter: in addition to fixing seemingly unfictionable, they're surprisingly saving lives in the process. seriously. >> my name's lucy. my face looks like i ran into a wall, which i did. >> reporter: lucy was in a motorbike accident 15 years ago while on vacation in italy. her face hit a wall. drastically altering her appearance. >> the only way i can describe it is it looked like a cannonball went into my face. >> reporter: a single mother to an autistic child she was afraid to play with her daughter, worried about what people would
say. >> there was tons of missed opportunities throughout the years. the things i didn't want to participate it. because i frankly was sick of being stared at everywhere i went. >> reporter: she decided to change for her daughter so she went to see the "botched" doctors. >> nice to meet you. >> a pleasure. >> reporter: but this routine consultation ended up being far from routine for both lucy and the doctors. >> was there anything at all in regards to any infections of these pieces of cartilage or bone? >> not that i know of. >> okay, so nothing everywhere it -- your nose got red, drapage came out of your nose? >> sometimes when i bend over, clear liquid comes out. >> do you still have that leakage? >> i had it today. >> when we hear clear fluid leaking we think of csf. cerebral spinal fluid leaking out of her nose. that's fluid from her brain. >> reporter: they immediately raise a red flag, ordering a ct scan to check for abnormalities. what they find is something they never expected. >> look at that right there, right there. >> reporter: the spray shows two brain aneurysms. >> this thing could rupture any
second. >> put her under anesthesia? the blood pressure went up? >> boom. >> during a stressful part of the surgery? boom, dead on the spot. >> reporter: they call with harrowing news. >> this is life threatening? >> it can be lucy. the good news is we caught these a little bit earlier. when they're still kind of small, thank god. >> what about my nose? >> you know -- now taking care of your face and your nose is not an option. >> you guys were really emotional about this one. what was it like? >> the initial aspect of diagnosing that she had a couple of brain aneurysms that could have killed her any time -- yes, that was very sad for us that when we found them -- but at the same time we saved her life. >> reporter: we'll get to the rest of lucy's story. first more about life-saving plastic surgeons. dr. paul and dr. terry have been friends and colleagues for years. before they signed on to "botched" they were reality
stars in their own right. >> so rude. >> it's a joke, what's the big deal? >> this is a different experience that you're having with "botched" than with "the real housewives" series? >> reporter: from bickering with his now ex-wife adrienne maloof on "the real housewives of beverly hills" -- >> let me just taste it. >> i don't want any. >> you don't like turkey? >> no. >> reporter: to dr. dubrow reining in his four kids with wife/actress heather dubrow on "the real housewives of orange county." >> stay away from that. everything is under control. >> reporter: the doctors say it's "botched" that gives them meaning. >> this is for me life-changing. beyond "botched." it has taken us to surgical levels we've never been before. >> reporter: for lucy that trip to see the doctors ended up saving her life. >> are you ready? >> how could i be ready for brain surgery? >> reporter: she would like lie have died on the operating table if she had not first had brain
surgery to remove both aneurysms. after a successful recovery, lucy is finally ready for that nose job. >> i want to feel that nose again one more time. >> you got great treatment. you came back. was there a point you felt, maybe enough is enough. why dodge a second bullet? >> good point. >> because she still was in the same situation with her daughter. she was, i have to do something, i can't live -- i can't do this to my daughter, i can't psychologically improve. >> this is a high-risk case. >> this is high risk. >> i was over the moon, so happy that they decided they were going to fix my nose. >> reporter: lucy gets her life back and reveals her new nose to her family and friends. >> this is elana. that's my girl. this is what it's all about right here. >> then there's some finalizing and finishing the surgery, improving her, that she was able now to change her life and do something with her daughter. so she felt better. this is what makes it worth it for us.
>> reporter: today lucy says she's making up for lost time. >> this past summer i think my daughter and i went away every weekend. a lot of situations which i would try to avoid in the past. i always had the feeling she was kind of embarrassed by me. and now she's not. she drags me everywhere. it's a good feeling. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm matt gutman in los angeles. >> "botched" airs tuesday night on e! next, hello, money. a new cafe dedicated to all things hello kitty, proving how popular the cartoon character really is.
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she's the cute queen of a super-lucrative empire. hello kitty is adding a new jewel to her crown. here again my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. >> reporter: say hello to the latest food truck craze. attracting a crowd of unabashed fans. >> i was saying to my boss, i've got to go right now! this is only here today. i took a late lunch break to find the truck. >> reporter: from california to times square. the hello kitty cafe is on a sweet tour. mini cakes, cookies, macaroons all giving fans a taste of this hello kitty state of mind. >> some people might know hello kitty from erasers and backpacks and lunch boxes. we're taking it to another level. >> reporter: in new york city today, those hello kitty delights all sold out within hours. >> i kind of wish they had some food in stock. but oh well. came a little late. it happens.
>> reporter: the selling secret? hello kitty herself. she may be the embodiment of cute. but behind those sweet eyes is a very big business. the san rio company who owns and licenses hello kitty and a host of other characters reportedly earned $8 billion in 2013. there are 50,000 hello kitty products in more than 70 countries. it's a craze my colleague abbie boudreau experienced firsthand during the very first hello kitty-con. it's no surprise why last year 25,000 fans flocked this museum in downtown l.a. to celebrate their red-bowed hero on her 40th birthday. >> oh my god, what don't i love? she's iconic to us. she's evolved with women and children. so, i mean, she loves her, i love her. i can still be a kid at heart at my age. >> reporter: to think it all started with a simple coin purse. >> sold for 220 yen, a little
under $1, at the time. >> reporter: today this ambassador of adorable is hiding in every corner. there's even high fashion. hello kitty couture. >> she's part of fashion. >> reporter: from little girls to grandmas and everyone else in between, even some guys embracing all things kitty. >> i ended up buying a head band. it was too cute. >> i never liked power rangers, never liked thomas tank engine, barbie, anything like that. it was always hello kitty. i grew up with these characters. >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm juju chang in new york. >> among hello kitty's famous fans, tennis star venus williams who said, i don't carry a purse while i fly because i have my hello kitty carry-on. who knew. thank you for watching abc news. tune into "good morning america." as always we're online 24/7 on our "nightline" facebook page and abcnews.com.