It was meant to be sim­ple her­nia op but it has left me in hell

For­mer sailor speaks out to re­veal men are mesh vic­tims too

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS - By Mar­ion Scott MAS­COTT@SUNDAYPOST.COM

petty of­fi­cer David Foulkes saw two tours on board HMS Cardiff dur­ing the Gulf War and emerged un­scathed.

Four years ago, at 52, mesh surgery ru­ined his health and de­stroyed his life.

The keen bird-watcher who used to walk miles as a vol­un­teer at a Fife RSPB wildlife cen­tre, is now crip­pled and on so many painkillers to dull the agony of ev­ery move­ment, that he has de­vel­oped a stut­ter.

David, from Kirk­caldy, said: “I served and fought twice, and was pre­pared to die or be in­jured in the name of Queen and coun­try.

“But noth­ing pre­pared me for the hell I’ve been left to face from the ‘sim­ple her­nia op­er­a­tion’ that re­duced me to a shell.”

David was im­planted with her­nia mesh of a type which has since been vol­un­tary re­called across Eu­rope.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal, with sur­geons claim­ing up to 30% of pa­tients suf­fer com­pli­ca­tions, as many as 17,000 Scot­tish her­nia pa­tients – both men and women – may suf­fer side ef­fects. David suf­fers many of the same painful side ef­fects as pa­tients who have had blad­der mesh im­plants.

After the navy, David be­came an elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer, en­joy­ing work and daily gym vis­its un­til he un­der­went an op­er­a­tion for a her­nia re­pair to his groin.

David said: “I was in and out of hos­pi­tal the same day.

“Ever since, I’ve been plagued with in­fec­tion, and the pain has been so bad, even liq­uid mor­phine wasn’t controlling it. “I wasn’t warned, or given a choice of non-mesh. I even awoke from re­pair surgery a cou­ple of years ago to dis­cover an­other piece of mesh had been put in­side me.

“I’ve strug­gled to get any­one to ad­mit mesh is the root of the prob­lem.

“I’ve even been sent to a psy­chi­a­trist be­cause I was told my pain was ‘all in my head’ – just like mesh in­jured women were told.”

Just over two years ago David had a tes­ti­cle re­moved to try and ease the pain.

He said: “The pain is just as bad. Now I feel I’ve lost my man­hood too.”

No longer fit to work, David lost his job and sur­vives on his navy pen­sion and dis­abil­ity al­lowance.

He can’t go to the gym, drive, or move with­out aid of a walk­ing stick.

His wife Gill, 51, who works for Asda, said: “My hus­band was a strong, vi­tal man at the peak of health. A ‘cheeky chap­pie’, full of life and laugh­ter. “Now he’s in de­spair. “For four years spe­cial­ists down­right de­nied know­ing why. Only re­cently have two doc­tors ad­mit­ted it’s all down to mesh.

“Even I was told that the pain was in his head and I should take him to a favourite bird­watch­ing site, and leave him with his binoc­u­lars and let him ‘get on with it’. “The poor man can hardly stand he’s in so much pain!” Politi­cians are call­ing for a sus­pen­sion on her­nia im­plants, warn­ing it could end up af­fect­ing five times as many vic­tims as the transvagi­nal mesh scan­dal. Cam­paign­ing MSP Neil Find­lay is call­ing on the Scot­tish Govern­ment to sus­pend her­nia mesh pro­ce­dures im­me­di­ately and launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He said: “Given what we now know about transvagi­nal mesh im­plants, and the length of time this govern­ment took to waken up to one of the big­gest med­i­cal scan­dals of mod­ern times, an im­me­di­ate sus­pen­sion is the only way to pro­tect the fu­ture well­be­ing of thou­sands of her­nia pa­tients.”

The politi­cian, who cam­paigned to high­light the blad­der and pelvic mesh scan­dal which has seen hun­dreds of women in Scot­land suf­fer­ing crip­pling in­juries, said: “Med­i­cal re­ports state the po­ten­tial for caus­ing in­jury to her­nia mesh pa­tients is up to 30%.

“As al­most 10,000 Scots have her­nia surgery ev­ery year, five times more than for transvagi­nal mesh surgery, the po­ten­tial for disas­ter is huge.”

For­mer Health Sec­re­tary Alex Neil, who called for a mesh sus­pen­sion and in­de­pen­dent safety re­view on transvagi­nal mesh, fully backs a sus­pen­sion and in­quiry. He said: “Given what we now know about the transvagi­nal mesh scan­dal, it is vi­tal that we take the same ac­tions for her­nia mesh pa­tients.”

And lawyer Pa­trick Maguire, of

– David Foulkes

Pa­tients need to be lis­tened to and the govern­ment needs to hear what they say

Thomp­sons Solic­i­tors, said: “Pa­tients need to be lis­tened to, and the govern­ment needs to hear what they say.

“It would be un­for­giv­able if they ig­nored these calls and more pa­tients were in­jured.”

Scot­land was the first in the world to sus­pend the use of transvagi­nal mesh im­plants. The whole of the UK has fol­lowed suit. But con­cern is now grow­ing over her­nia meshes, many of which are made from the same or sim­i­lar ma­te­rial as transvagi­nal mesh, which has seen man­u­fac­tur­ers pay over £3 bil­lion com­pen­sa­tion in the US.

A Sun­day Post in­ves­ti­ga­tion into mesh re­vealed man­u­fac­tur­ers knew 21 years ago of safety con­cerns but they went ahead. Thou­sands of US her­nia mesh cases will be­gin next year.

David’s wife Gill is an­gry at NHS For­mer Navy of­fi­cer David Foulkes

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