Im­plant leads to years of agony

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - STREET WATCH - 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 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 mesh­queries@gmail.com 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.

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