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), 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 within the body.
Since the implants in 2007, Miss 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.”
Miss 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 and inches.
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.
Miss 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. 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,” 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.
Miss Turner said one piece of her mesh implant had “vanished” and there were no 3D/4D ultrasounds in WA to locate where it had migrated.
“It has just disappeared; we don’t know where it is,” she said.
“It could be anywhere doing God-knows-what damage to my body.”
The medical issues suffered as result of the implant have affected 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,” she said.
“I have to lay down at work in my lunchbreak some days because I am in that much in pain.
“I can’t garden any more. I use 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 relationship,” she said.
The Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group on Facebook with more than 700 members has provided Miss Turner with support and information.
She said people wanting to contact the group could email email@example.com or visit the group’s Facbeook page.
Miss Turner’s friends have rallied to her support and have set up a GoFundMe 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 Miss Turner’s trip to Sydney for surgery 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’.
Mr Hinch described the problem as a national disgrace saying the mesh had crippled thousand of mothers in Australia and overseas.
“I believe this is one of the greatest medical scandles and abuses of mothers in Australia’s history,” he said.
The inquiry report is due on 30 November 2017.
For further information contact 02 6277 3515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) urges consumers and health professionals to report adverse events experienced in association with transvaginal meshes
From July 2012 to 1 June 2016, the TGA received 99 adverse events reports involving transvaginal meshes. The most frequently reported adverse events were pain and erosion.
Adverse events associated with meshes may include:
· punctures or lacerations of vessels, nerves, structures or organs, including the bladder, urethra or bowel;
· transitory local irritation at the wound site;
· mesh extrusion, exposure, or erosion into the vagina or other structures or organs;
· acute and/or chronic pain;
· voiding dysfunction;
· pain during intercourse;
· neuromuscular problems including acute and/or chronic pain in the groin, thigh, leg, pelvic and/or abdominal area;
· recurrence of incontinence;
· bleeding including haemorrhage, or haematoma;
· mesh migration; and
· allergic reaction.