At least 10 women each day are approaching lawyers demanding compensation for the life-changing damage caused to their bodies by controversial vaginal mesh, it has emerged.
Following cries for the scandal-hit procedure to be halted, backed by MailOnline, floods of affected women who have had their lives destroyed by such devices have sought help from Wedlake Bell.
The leading London-based legal firm have been inundated with desperate requests from outraged women seeking answers and action since it launched an email inbox dedicated to dealing with those afflicted.
The alarming figures follow our revelations that the NHS has chosen to ignore damning studies that showed the vaginal mesh complication rates to be significantly higher than officials are willing to admit.
Thousands of British women are known to have been left suicidal, unable to have sex and plagued with infections as a result of the controversial procedure – but those responsible are trying to sweep the issue under the carpet.
Following cries for the scandal-hit vaginal mesh procedure to be halted, floods of affected women who have had their lives destroyed by such devices have sought legal help
WHAT ARE VAGINAL MESH IMPLANTS?
Vaginal mesh implants are devices used by surgeons to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence in women.
Usually made from synthetic polypropylene, a type of plastic, the implants are intended to repair damaged or weakened tissue in the vagina wall.
Other fabrics include polyester, human tissue and absorbable synthetic materials.
Some women report severe and constant abdominal and vaginal pain after the surgery.
In some, the pain is so severe they are unable to have sex.
Infections, bleeding and even organ erosion has also been reported
David Golten, partner at Wedlake, spoke of his grave concerns towards the surgery and has backed campaigns to call for an end to brittle vaginal mesh implants, which erode inside women and leave them in a lifetime of pain.
He told MailOnline: ‘Our dedicated email address for people to communicate with us only went up around two months ago. In the last few weeks we are getting 10 new approaches a day.’
Mr Golten added: ‘The Mail has a history of successful campaigns. We hope that it will reach out to the women whose lives have been ruined by these devices and encourage them to join the efforts to get it banned.
‘Media campaigns are so important because the more women there are, the stronger their [those affected women] voice is.’ He said such media attention applies pressure on the Government and on the NHS to take action to stop using the devices.
But these are figures are just the tip of the iceberg and are from just Wedlake, who specialise in taking action on vaginal mesh. It is unknown how many other women affected requested legal help from other firms.
‘THE DAY BEFORE MESH SURGERY I RAN 5K, NOW I WET MYSELF’
A mother-of-five who had a vaginal mesh implant fitted for mild stress incontinence now has to rush to the toilet and has even wet herself on several occasions as a result of the procedure.
Julie Gilsennan, 41, from Liverpool, had an implant fitted on February 1 as she would experience leaking if she coughed, sneezed or lifted something heavy, which was impractical given her job as a paramedic.
Although she can now sneeze without leaking, Ms Gilsennan has been left with an overactive bladder that makes her desperate for the toilet within 20 minutes of drinking.
Previously highly active, Ms Gilsennan even ran 5km the day before having the implant fitted, yet she now struggles to move as she suffers unbearable pain.
The agony has even forced her to quit her highly-challenging career as a paramedic in order to work from home alone.
Ms Gilsennan was told she would need up to six weeks off work after having the mesh fitted, however, she has been unable to return to work as a paramedic and instead works from home processing complaints to the ambulance service.
She said: ‘I loved my job, I did it for 12 years. I miss being out on the road with colleagues and talking to people. Now I’m trapped inside my house.
‘I’m in immense pain permanently. It’s like a cheese wire, glass pain in my groin.
‘I also have constant pain across my hips as if I have arthritis. I can’t return to work as a paramedic.’
Previously highly active, Ms Gilsennan even ran 5km the day before having the implant fitted, yet she now struggles to move as she suffers unbearable pain
Wedlake hand out questionnaires to all new members of Sling The Mesh, a campaign group dedicated in fighting for an end to the practice which has seen its member count double to 2,600 since April – when the scandal first came to light.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MESH
Different types of mesh implants include:
- Mini-sling: This implant is embedded with a metallic inserter. It sits close to the mid-section of a woman’s urethra. The use of an inserter is thought to lower the risk of cutting during the procedure.
- TVT sling: Such a sling is held in place by the patient’s body. It is inserted with a plastic tape by cutting the vagina and making two incisions in the abdomen. The mesh sits beneath the urethra.
- TVTO sling: Inserted through the groin and sits under the urethra. This sling was intended to prevent bladder perforation.
- TOT sling: Involves forming a ‘hammock’ of fibrous tissue in the urethra. Surgeons often claim this form of implant gives them the most control during implantation.
New women are asked if they want to obtain legal help for their life-changing side effects. So far that 250 have returned them with clear indications that they are happy to proceed in seeking action from lawyers.
But Mr Golten added that ‘there are lots more’, probably in the region of 10,000 across England and Wales, who have yet to realise the true extent of damage that the mesh may have done to their body.
Mr Golten said he suspects the true rate of adverse effects to be much closer to the 10 per cent mark, in line with various medical journals, despite the NHS and MHRA stating it to be 1 to 3 per cent.
Earlier this week, MailOnline reported on a host of evidence that clearly shows adverse effects of the surgery to strike up to 40 per cent of women. Others suggest it could be as high as 75 per cent.
Such studies encouraged doctors to suspend the procedures in three US states, with the device being considered high-risk across America for nearly a decade, as officials accept that up to 40 per cent of women may experience injury.
Senior doctors have already called for a public inquiry into its use in Britain, saying it could be akin to the thalidomide scandal. The procedure, used to treat childbirth problems, has seen more than 800 women sue the NHS and device manufacturers.
Figures estimate that more than 92,000 women in England underwent vaginal mesh procedures between 2006 and 2016.
HOW MANY WOMEN SUFFER?
According to the NHS and MHRA, the risk of vaginal mesh pain after an implant is between one and three per cent.
Yet, a study by Case Western Reserve University found that up to 42 per cent of patients experience complications.
Of which, 77 per cent report severe pain and 30 per cent claim to have a lost or reduced sex life.
Urinary infections have been reported in around 22 per cent of cases, while bladder perforation occurs in up to 31 per cent of incidences.
Critics of the implants say trials confirming their supposed safety have been small or conducted in animals, who are unable to describe pain or a loss of sex life.
According to Kath Samson, head of the Sling The Mesh campaign, surgeons often refuse to accept vaginal mesh implants are causing recipient’s pain, and are not obligated to report such complications anyway.
She said: ‘Less than 40 per cent of surgeons report vaginal mesh implant side effects.
‘In last 10 years, 126,000 mesh and tape implants have been fitted in England alone.
‘In that period around 7,800 women have gone into hospital with a mesh complication, but the number reported to the MHRA is just over 1,000.
‘Many more women would have experienced pain but never gone to hospital.’