Vaginal mesh implants were introduced in the late 1990s as a routine treatment for stress urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and common complications following childbirth. The mesh is a plastic netlike implant that comes in several forms. However, these flexible plastic nets have led to life-altering complications for many women including nerve damage, chronic pain, and several reported deaths. Researchers have struggled to determine how often these issues occur, current estimates lie between 15% and 25%. What is clear is that when complications do arise they are often severe and life-limiting, far more so than the original condition they were intended to treat.
Often, vaginal mesh was deemed as the better option and viewed as a quick fix by the medical industry. However, in 2017 the first death from a pelvic mesh was reported – a Canadian activist Chrissy Brajcic who campaigned for ban of the mesh died from sepsis from her own implant, after suffering problems for four years. Whilst her mesh was removed due to nerve damage, Chrissy experienced continual urinary tract infections and was readmitted to hospital in October 2017, where she unfortunately died weeks later.
Baroness Cumberlege’s Mesh Review
A report published on the 9th July 2020 has stated that vaginal mesh concerns from women have been ‘dismissed’ by the medical profession for years. The report also stated that women’s symptoms and concerns over their wellbeing were often dismissed as ‘women’s problems’ and no further investigation was ever carried out. The review shared the missed opportunities, when preventative measures could have been taken to avoid harm to women.
Baroness Julia Cumberlege reported “I have conducted many reviews and inquiries over the years, but I have never encountered anything like this. Much of this suffering was entirely avoidable, caused and compounded by failings in the health system itself.”
Long Term Impact
Many women have described debilitating pain, others have revealed that they are now unable to work and, for some, even walking has become a struggle. Dr Sophier Elneil who has worked with mesh victims reported that the mesh is incredibly difficult to remove due to the tissue growth around the mesh, therefore, whilst women were told it is not permanent, they are almost impossible to get rid of.
As of January 2019, 3 – 4 million women have been fitted with transvaginal mesh worldwide, and of that number, around 150,000 – 200,000 have suffered complications. In 2017, UK hospital figures obtained by Sky News suggested that almost 10 per cent of women suffer complications following their treatment. So far more than 1200 women in the UK have submitted a claim against the NHS for injuries caused by their vaginal mesh implant. They have requested financial recognition for the pain and suffering resulting from faulty implants or the negligent way in which they have been inserted which means they cannot be removed.
Recent legal action has resulted in court cases taking place across the world. In Australia, the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group caught the media’s attention across the globe after they released a series of statements from women, expressing their outrage over how they have been treated by doctors regarding their complaints. In March 2019, an Australian landmark case paved the way for compensation for victims, as a further 1,350 other women in Australia are also launching legal cases against the company. Johnson& Johnson are also facing similar lawsuits in Europe, Canada and the US for negligence.
If you have suffered as a result of a pelvic mesh, it is important you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Please get in touch with our team by making a free enquiry or calling us on 028 8772 2102. You can also contact our Dublin office on 01 533 7860 or complete a Free Online Enquiry and we will soon be in touch.