Mesh sufferers petition Govt for inquiry

  • Breaking
  • 24/03/2014

MedSafe revealed today there has been a spike in the number of people having problems with surgical mesh implants.

Now, two women who say their lives have been turned upside down by mesh are going to petition the Government for a full inquiry into its use in New Zealand.

Latest figures released by MedSafe show the number of people reporting complications from surgical mesh has nearly doubled in the past year.

Polypropylene mesh was originally designed in the 1950s to treat hernias. Today, it's used worldwide to repair organ prolapse. 

Carmel Berry and Charlotte Korte are two out of 20 percent of people who suffer complications from surgical mesh.

"It's like I'm sitting on a sharp rock. Often I've said it feels like I'm sitting on barbed wire," says Ms Berry.

She first had mesh implanted to repair a prolapsed uterus in 2004.

"I was in excruciating pain immediately after surgery. And so six weeks later I'm back in surgery to find out why I was in so much pain, but the mesh hadn't done its job and my bladder had prolapsed," Ms Berry recalls.

She has since had pieces of mesh removed, but the last piece has fused with her organs, meaning she could lose her bladder if surgeons try to remove it.

Charlotte has a similar story; in 2010 she suffered a prolapsed bowel and received a mesh implant to resolve the problem. It was not until a year later that complications arose.

"The pain got so bad that I was literally unable to stand for longer than two minutes," she says.

The mother-of-two travelled to Wellington last October, where she had her mesh completely removed by one of the country's most specialised surgeons, Dr Hanifa Koya.

"My role has been supporting the women, working with ACC, as well as the insurance companies, taking out all the meshes, whether they are in the pelvis or the vagina, and doing the appropriate corrective surgery," says Dr Koya. 

ACC figures show 421 people lodged claims for mesh-related injuries in the three years between March 2010 and 2013. Of those, only 297 were accepted, costing tax payers $2,156,562 in that period.

"There's totally underreporting and in fact ACC only covers for mesh infection and erosion; it does not cover for pains, which is actually the major complaint of the patients," says Dr Koya.

The Ministry of Health's MedSafe only received 19 reports in the same period. New figures released today show there were a further 21 in the last year alone.

Ms Berry and Ms Korte have lodged a petition with Parliament, calling for a full government inquiry into surgical mesh.

"We need a full investigation into surgical mesh to find out exactly how often it's being used," says Ms Korte. "We would like to see how it's coming onto the market and why we're getting these products that have not been tested before being released onto the market."

In 2008 the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) administered its first warning against the use of surgical mesh to treat organ prolapse. This was followed by another warning in August 2011.

"Based on evaluation of adverse event reports and assessment of the scientific literature, the FDA has NOT seen conclusive evidence that using transvaginally placed mesh in POP (pelvic organ prolapse) repair improves clinical outcomes any more than traditional POP repair that does not use mesh, and it may expose patients to greater risk", the report stated.

In New Zealand, medical professionals are not required to report complications from mesh – something Ms Berry and Ms Korte want to change.

"We'd also like to see a compulsory register of all surgical mesh implants so that down the track if these products are recalled or if patients have ongoing complications it can all be tracked back to that master register," says Ms Berry.

The two women will get the chance to present their case for a full government inquiry in the coming weeks.

3 News

source: newshub archive