The operation that is ruining women’s lives. Mums across the UK join forces for Sling The Mesh Campaign.
The campaign is calling for:
An operation with unacceptable risks to be suspended
A National Register to be launched to track future problems
Life changing risks to be fully explained to patients
The Government to tighten up legislation on medical devices
“Some women live in pain for the rest of their lives. As part of my research I have come across women in wheelchairs and on crutches struggling to walk because of this operation,” Kath Sansom
Why launch this campaign now?
The European Commission is expected to release their findings on the TVT mesh operation in June 2015 The report is by the Scientific Committee for Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks SCENIHR
A 7 year study will be discussed at an international conference in France from June 9-13 which shows 40% of women suffer erosion of mesh used in this operation
Mums across the UK are calling for an operation that has potentially ”life-changing disabling consequences” to be suspended in England and Wales after learning the procedure was stopped in Scotland last year .
Journalist and photographer Kath Sansom, who underwent the operation in March 2015, has joined forces with 12 other mums to launch a campaign called Sling The Mesh.
Kath says she is in so much pain, despite taking nerve blockers, that: “I feel like the unwilling victim of a cruel experiment that has gone horribly wrong.
“My legs and pelvic area feel like they are full of cut glass. I have burning and shooting pains. Going up a few stairs makes my legs ache terribly. I also have unexplained rashes and a burning face sensation.
“I have gone from a super fit 47 year old who did boxing training twice a week, high board diving, swimming, mountain biking and dancing at gigs, to a physical wreck who can just about walk my dog round the park.”
The gynaecology operation uses a device known as a TVT mesh sling to cure incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Problems are often caused by natural childbirth, especially if women have had big babies.
The mesh has caused so many health problems in Australia that some of the products were de-registered there in November 2014. (a)
In the USA around 100,000 lawsuits have been filed from women who have suffered permanent disabilities .
Leading American surgeon Michael Margolis felt so strongly about the TVT product that in 2013 he wrote to Scottish Parliament urging them to ban the operation, saying the use of the mesh : “Must stop immediately. The complications from this defective surgical theory and defective material far outweigh the potential benefits.” (b)
The TVT mesh is one of many medical devices- including hip implants, cochlea implants and the disastrous PIP breast implants – that campaigners say are too easily approved for use within the human body. So much so, that in January this year, a team of undercover Oxford scientists took a piece of fruit netting, used to package oranges, to a regulatory body in Austria and were on the brink of getting the CE Kitemark for it, to prove how lax the system is (c)
Kath, whose girls are 13 and 18, decided to have a TVT mesh bladder sling after suffering what many mums are left with after childbirth – stress urinary incontinence. She was told it was a minimally invasive, relatively low risk, operation taking less than half an hour with around 13,000 operations carried out a year in the UK on the NHS. However, she has since found out what she thought was a body-friendly sling is made from polypropylene plastic mesh – the same material used to make drinks bottles .
She said: “The mesh is harsh with rough edges and feels more like the sort of material you would find on a building site not the type of thing to be put near the most delicate area in a woman’s body.
“Once inserted the mesh takes about six weeks to knit into the tissues and after that surgeons say that taking it out is like trying to get chewing gum out of matted hair. Surgeons can put it in but those same surgeons cannot then take it out. My understanding is that there are only two surgeons in the UK who can successfully remove it, Natalia Price in Oxford and Sohier Elneil in London, but sometimes due to technical difficulties it cannot be fully removed. There are only four surgeons in America who are able to take it out.
“I was not told that I may suffer horrible leg and pelvic pains or that I would feel like I was being cut by cheese-wire inside my body. I was not told that this was a permanent device. I have bad days and good days but if I walk too far ( about 15 minutes), sit for too long or try to do too much, the pain kicks in.
“Some women live in constant pain for the rest of their lives only partially eased by pain relief medication or on crutches because of this operation. Marriages have broken down where they can no longer have sex with their partners because the tape is cutting into their vaginal walls and it is both painful for the woman and injures the partner.
“There are online support forums across the globe all full of tales of women suffering and crying out for help. When it goes wrong it goes spectacularly wrong and it is not a risk worth taking. Few surgeons give women fully informed consent; risks are not properly explained,” Kath said.
Sign the petition to remove this from the market
(a) Australia d-registers the mesh:
(b) Letter from USA surgeon Michael Margolis to Scottish Health Minister Alex Neil sent in September 2013 urging the Scottish Parliament to suspend the TVT bladder sling operation for urinary incontinence and bladder prolapse. This was achieved in June 2014:
Profile on Michael Tom Margolis http://meshmedicaldevicenewsdesk.com/pelvic-surgeon-dr-m-tom-margolis-on-getting-the-mesh-out
(c) Lois Rogers reports for the Sunday Times in January 2015 on the undercover team that were on the brink of getting fruit netting approved of use as a medical device http://loisrogers.com/?p=506