Im­plant nightmare

SURGERY HAS MADE SIN­GLE MUM’S LIFE HELL

Comment News (Gosnells) - - Front Page - Emma Geary

SIN­GLE mother Sue Turner breaks down in tears when she speaks about the dev­as­tat­ing health ef­fects a transvagi­nal mesh im­plant has had on her life.

In 2005, Miss Turner (54), of Har­ris­dale, suf­fered a pelvic or­gan pro­lapse af­ter a hys­terec­tomy.

To treat the con­di­tion, her gy­nae­col­o­gist at the time rec­om­mended in­sert­ing mesh im­plants to hold the or­gans within the body.

Since the im­plants in 2007, Ms Turner's health has de­te­ri­o­rated and she has un­der­gone ma­jor surg­eries to stop dam­age from im­plants that have torn loose and mi­grated to other parts of her body.

“It has just been one thing af­ter the other and I am so ex­hausted from it all,” she said.

"It is killing me. Peo­ple say to me, you look well, but they don't see me when I come home.

“I just go to my room and I don't have a life. It has lit­er­ally been mak­ing me sick for years.”

Ms Turner's health is­sues since the im­plants are ex­ten­sive and in­clude mul­ti­ple surg­eries, acute pain, chronic fa­tigue syn­drome, clin­i­cal de­pres­sion and neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems, such as un­ex­plained rashes and itches. She is not alone in her plight, with women around Aus­tralia go­ing pub­lic about their hor­ren­dous health ex­pe­ri­ences with the im­plants. A fed­eral Par­lia­men­tary in­quiry es­tab­lished this year is ex­am­in­ing the ex­tent of the prob­lem, in­clud­ing the Ther­a­peu­tic Goods As­so­ci­a­tion's role in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the suit­abil­ity of the im­plants for use in Aus­tralia.

Ms Turner, who has had ovar­ian cysts and en­dometrio­sis since she was 16, had the same gy­nae­col­o­gist for about 40 years.

Af­ter her pro­lapse, her then-spe­cial­ist told her he could fix the prob­lem by in­sert­ing vagi­nal mesh im­plants.

“They put the an­chors in,” she said. “All your or­gans just sit in the sling and they fire these an­chors into your pelvic wall; they're like har­poons.”

Fol­low­ing surgery, she ex­pe­ri­enced acute pain.

“I have a lot of pain up my back pas­sage,” she said. “I could be walk­ing along and the pain would be so se­vere I would have to stop.”

On the ad­vice of her GP, she sought help from a urog­y­nae­col­o­gist at St John of God Mur­doch Hospi­tal.

“The spe­cial­ist dis­cov­ered one of the mesh im­plants had mi­grated and was close to pierc­ing through my blad­der wall,” she said.

Fol­low­ing ur­gent surgery, she took five months off work to re­cover from the op­er­a­tion.

Last year she was op­er­ated on again af­ter her spe­cial­ist dis­cov­ered mesh an­chors had mi­grated close to her rec­tal wall.

Ms Turner said a piece of her mesh im­plant had “van­ished” and there were no 3D/4D ul­tra­sound ma­chines in WA to lo­cate it.

“It has just dis­ap­peared; we don’t know where it is. It could be any­where do­ing God knows what dam­age to my body,” she said.

The med­i­cal is­sues suf­fered as re­sult of the im­plant have im­pacted on her en­joy­ment in life.

“I used to be re­ally out­go­ing, I use to laugh all the time. Now I cry at work. I just break down for no rea­son. I have to lie down at work dur­ing my lunch break some days be­cause I am in that much pain,” she said..

“I can’t gar­den any more. I used to fish, I can’t fish. If I go to the mar­ket or go out walk­ing or shop­ping some­times I have to leave my trol­ley and come home. I sweat pro­fusely. I have pain in my legs and joint pain all over.

“I haven’t had a re­la­tion­ship. I just don’t put my­self out there. I have had peo­ple ask me out but I just freeze be­cause I think what guy is go­ing want to be with me.

“I can’t even have sex, so I just haven’t had re­la­tion­ships.”

The Aus­tralian Pelvic Mesh Sup­port Group on Face­book with more than 700 mem­bers has pro­vided Ms Turner with sup­port and in­for­ma­tion.

She said peo­ple want­ing to con­tact the group could email mesh­queries@gmail.com or visit the group's Facbeook page.

Ms Turner’s friends have set up a Go Fund Me site to raise money for her to travel to Syd­ney for surgery later this year.

She said there was only one sur­geon in Aus­tralia who had re­cently been trained by a US sur­geon on how to re­move the transvagi­nal mesh im­plants.

Both doc­tors will be in Syd­ney later this year to con­duct surg­eries.

To make a do­na­tion to­wards Ms Turner’s travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion costs in Syd­ney, visit www. go­fundme.com/hvs9c.

A Se­nate in­quiry into the transvagi­nal mesh prob­lem is call­ing on sub­mis­sions to be made by May 31.

Sen­a­tor Der­ryn Hinch has spear­headed the cam­paign for the in­quiry named the ‘Num­ber of women in Aus­tralia who have had transvagi­nal mesh im­plants and re­lated mat­ters’.

Sen­a­tor Hinch called the prob­lem a na­tional disgrace, say­ing the mesh had crip­pled thou­sands of moth­ers in Aus­tralia and over­seas.

“I be­lieve this is one of the great­est med­i­cal scan­dals and abuses of moth­ers in Aus­tralia’s his­tory,” he said.

The in­quiry re­port is due on Novem­ber 30.

Phone 02 6277 3515 or email com­mu­nity.af­fairs.sen@aph.gov.au

Pic­ture: Emma Geary

Sue Turner is one of many women in Aus­tralia ex­pe­ri­enc­ing health prob­lems fol­low­ing a transvagi­nal mesh im­plant in 2007.

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