Hundreds with serious vaginal mesh injuries still fighting for ‘basic care’

Published date27 June 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Women, many of whom have lost livelihoods and relationships due to complications - including chronic pain, relentless infections, incontinence, loss of mobility, bleeding and depression - say they are still not being told whether the mesh is the cause and are still denied appropriate treatments and in some cases are leaving Ireland to access care

Two groups, representing about 600 mesh-injured women, will appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Health on Wednesday calling for "choice, access and funding" regarding care.

Key for both Mesh Ireland and Mesh Survivors Ireland is the choice to have the meshes fully removed - something they do not believe is available here. They are calling for funding to travel to a world expert in complete mesh removal, Dr Dionysius Veronikis, a specialist in women's pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the Mercy Hospital in St Louis, Missouri. He has fully removed thousands of meshes, including from eight Irish women since 2019, each paying about €9,500 for the surgery alone.

The groups will tell the committee Irish women continue to be "gaslit" by the medical community and that "trust is very low" between many of them and the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish medical community.

In July 2018, the HSE paused the use of vaginal mesh - also known as slings or tapes - to treat urinary stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse where safe to do so. This followed a similar pause by the British health authorities due to concerns about serious complications in a minority of women.

The meshes, made of synthetic materials, are implanted in the woman's pelvic area to effectively hoist prolapsing organs or "leaky" bladders back into position. Though intended as permanent implants, many women injured by them say they were not warned of their permanency or potential problems of meshes shrinking, twisting, eroding into organs or protruding into the vagina.

In November 2018 a report by chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan made 19 recommendations, including that information about mesh complications and services be freely available to injured women; referral pathways be established for women with mesh complications; multidisciplinary services, including specialist diagnostic services, be established; and that treatments for women in urgent need of care, including if necessary abroad, be identified.

While the HSE has established a national mesh complications service, at the National Maternity...

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