SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Victims of transvaginal mesh implantation who have endured debilitating side effects today urged all women who have had the procedure or corrective surgery and suffer severe problems to come forward before the manufacturers responsible for the device slam the door on future claims.
“No amount of money in the world can make up for the years of pain inflicted by these devices, but a fair settlement would at least allow these women to pay their bills and get their lives back in order.”
So far, 70,000 claims alleging gross negligence have been filed against seven major manufacturers of the defective meshes. But after years of dragging their feet and refusing to settle the cases, attorneys for the corporate offenders have asked a federal judge to bar any more women from joining the mass tort case in the future.
On June 2, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia will hold an important conference status meeting in Charleston in which the manufacturers – among them Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Cook Medical and Neomedic – are expected to push for a moratorium on current or future claims, even though hundreds of thousands of women are believed to have been impacted.
An online petition at change.org/TVMHealthRisks calls on the manufacturers to drop their demands on current and future cases and reach a settlement that is fair for all victims.
“We can’t allow the court to shut out the countless victims who have yet to come forward,” said Angela, a resident of Hayward, California, who has endured years of pain following a transvaginal mesh implant during a hysterectomy. “No amount of money in the world can make up for the years of pain inflicted by these devices, but a fair settlement would at least allow these women to pay their bills and get their lives back in order.”
Surgical mesh was never approved for use transvaginally – it was originally a treatment for hernias dating back to the 1950s. Nonetheless, manufacturers began marketing the synthetic devices as treatment for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence associated with childbirth or hysterectomies. In the 1990s, despite clear early indications that vaginal implantations would result in severe complications, the manufacturers began marketing them for transvaginal use.
Complications following surgery have proven life-altering for many victims. The material tends to erode through the vaginal lining, causing nerve damage and severe infections. In many women the pain is so problematic they lose the ability to sit down for long periods or to urinate without a catheter. Many find they can no longer have intimate relations without enduring severe pain.
“The implantation of contaminated synthetic mesh through the vagina defies basic surgical tenets because by definition it is not performed in a sterile manner,” said Dr. Michael Thomas Margolis, an urogynecologist and pelvic surgeon in the San Francisco Bay Area. “In fact so-called mesh erosion, the most common mesh complication, is in reality mesh infection.”
Tragically, it is difficult if not impossible to fully remove a mesh once it has become embedded in the walls of the vagina, leaving victims with no recourse but to live with constant, excruciating pain. “(Removal) of vaginal mesh is akin to taking a hammer and chisel and trying to remove the rebar from a sidewalk, while leaving the cement otherwise intact and not damaging the water mains and power lines below,” Dr. Margolis said.
Alison, a 48-year-old married woman living in Lexington, Kentucky, had a hysterectomy five years ago during which surgeons implanted a mesh to treat prolapse. Six to eight weeks following surgery, she knew something was wrong. “Everything hurt,” she said. “But my doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong.”
Five years later, doctors still have been unable to fully remove the mesh because of the severity of the erosion. Alison remains bedridden and in intense pain, forced to take powerful pain killers to get by. “It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know if it’s ever going to end, if I’m ever going to get better and have a (sexual) relationship with my husband again. It’s been such a disaster.”
Eileen, a 71-year-old mother of three from Kansas City, Missouri, had a mesh inserted 10 years ago while undergoing surgery to find relief from a fallen bladder. Within days, she began suffering severe pain and was unable to relieve her bladder without great difficulty.
She continues to be in pain and just recently signed on as part of the legal fight against mesh manufacturers. “For years I didn’t ask anyone for help because I thought the statute of limitations had run out,” she said. “It was a horrible experience for me. I can’t believe they can get away with something like this.”
Women who have had a mesh procedure or corrective surgery and have suffered through traumatic, painful side-effects can find out more information about this important issue at Jenslist.org.