Implant leads to years of agony
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 Ms Turner (54), who lives in Perth’s southern suburbs, 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 in 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,” she said.
“It has literally been making me sick for years.”
Ms Turner’s health issues post the implants are extensive and include multiple surgeries, acute pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, clinical depression and neurological problems such as unexplained rashes.
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 approximately 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. All your organs just sit in the sling and they fire these anchors into your pelvic wall. They’re like harpoons,” she said. Following surgery, she experienced acute pain. “I have a lot of pain up my back passage. 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 an 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.”
Following urgent surgery, she took five months off work to recover. And, last year she was operated on again after her specialist discovered mesh anchors had migrated close to her rectal wall.
Ms Turner said one piece of her mesh implant had “vanished” and there were no 3D/4D ultrasounds in WA to locate where it has migrated.
“It has just disappeared; we don’t know where it is. It could be anywhere doing God-knows-what damage to my body.”
The medical issues suffered as result of the implant have impacted on her enjoyment in life.
“I use to be really outgoing, I use to laugh all the time. I cry at work. I just break down for no reason. I have to lie down at work in my lunchbreak some days because I am in that much pain.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the group’s Facbeook page.
And, Ms Turner’s friends have rallied to her support and have set up a Go Fund Me site to raise money for her to travel to Sydney to undergo reparatory 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 surgery on women.
To make a donation towards travel and accommodation costs for Ms Turner’s trip to Sydney for surgery visit www.gofundme.com/hvs9c.