Budke Son on the Stand in Pelvic Mesh Death Trial Against J&J

Jane Akre
January 14, 2015
Budke family

Budke family

All of the family of Joan Budke was in the courtroom today. The youngest and only son, David, from Houston, arrived Monday and would testify today.

Mr. Budke was surrounded by his son and two adult daughters and an elderly couple arrived mid-morning. They held hands. She resembled Joan Budke.

At 3:30, the plaintiffs played the videotaped deposition of local urologist, Dr. Eugene Dixon of Osage Beach. He had been called in to treat Ms. Budke and her blocked ureters, that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. not an area that gynecologist Dr. Becky Simpson usually treated.

Joan Budke, 76, went to the emergency room in January 2009. She didn't feel well and an exam discovered the infection that was backing urine up to her kidneys, putting pressure on them. It was determined stents would help relieve the pressure but Dr. Dixon could not find the ureters. There was also noted a fluid collection in the pelvis they thought might be air containing a foreign body. Some bacteria produces an air space.

Ms. Budke had the Prolift System mesh implanted to treat mild incontinence in April 2008. Eight months later the mesh, placed between the bladder and the vagina, seemed to be infected. There was an erosion into the vagina, a point of entry for bacteria. Ms. Budke felt nauseous.

A culture later revealed the infection- bacteroides, a bacteria in the bowel, was identified. Dr. Dixon said, "It's a bacteria in the bowel it doesn't cause trouble unless it gets where it doesn't belong." It was found on the mesh itself. A hole in the vagina was the point of entry for the infection. Later when she didn't improve with antibiotics, Ms. Budke was moved to Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis. Dr. Dixon did not see Joan again.

David Budke

The Budke family then left the courtroom as David Budke took the stand.

He was stoic and strong. His mother was his friend, supporter and confidant.

Mr. Budke, 51, lives in Houston, Texas and is the father of three children. He works in the field of healthcare with a specialty in gerontology.

Much of his time is taken up with volunteer work for nonprofit organizations, a need to give his mother stressed in him. Budke volunteers with the Younglife organization and a Christian outreach organization for businessmen in the Houston area. He was most proud of recently taking his eldest daughter to help build a medical clinic for a needy group in Egypt. His mother would have approved, he said.

Who Was Ms. Budke?

David continued. He put his head down.

Adam Slater led him gently through the questioning. The room was quiet and the jury was attentive.

"My mom was the ultimate peacemaker, and giver and encourager and just was always going to people in need, that’s where I got my motivation to do a lot of not-for-profit work. "She was very quiet, very soft spoken, she was very warm and spirited," he said.

"I can recall she’s only gotten mad at me twice, they weren’t good times. First time was I put a hot iron on a Kleenex box and the kitchen counter caught fire. Second time, I got a full bar of soap in my mouth." The jury chuckled. Ms. Budke was a homemaker who stayed home to raise her children. She volunteered at the regional hospital and at school. She delivered meals on wheels.

"She was a huge part of my spiritual development. The best thing about my mom when I was having a bad day or when I screwed up she was always there to listen and she was always there to understand and there to extend unconditional love." She would leave David notes on a sticky pad, some of which he keeps in his wallet today.

Her work ethic was incredible, he continued, as were both parents. "There were no free lunches." They were married 54 years. His dad, now age 91 misses her cooking, he said.

He started to realize there was a serious problem with his mom in January 2009 when she could not attend David's father-in-law's funeral. Ms. Budke did not complain about her conditions at all, she didn't want anyone else to worry. They never knew how much pain she was in.

"We knew there were issues with the mesh," he said. By January, David said, he saw how scared his mother was. Making about 15 trips from Houston to the Lake he observed doctors trying to determine what was wrong with his mother. At one point he remembered looking at his father and realizing she was not going to make it. The family always thought their dad would go first. He had had a series of strokes while mom worked out five times a week and was very healthy.

How did her appearance change? asked Slater. "The hardest part was yesterday. I won't look at some pictures because I can't look at them. The x-rays to look at her body mass in January then in August. She went from something to nothing in six months, " he said describing her 30- pound weight loss. The the family decided a ventilator would be needed to help ease her breathing as doctors said they had done all they could. Eventually the hospital consulted with the family and it was decided to remove the ventilator.

"We had the heartache, the privilege and honor to spend her last breaths together."

David Budke said he misses his mom, sharing things about his children's accomplishments. His father stay home now. He lost his lifelong companion. "He continues to try and understand this process."

The family returned to the room after David stepped off the podium.

At the end of the day, two members of the defense team approach David Budke and appeared to be offering their condolences. #

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