New Zealand Reports of Mesh Injuries, Hundreds Respond

Jane Akre
October 30, 2012

Carmel Berry, mesh injured in New Zealand

October 29, 2012 ~ The New Zealand Herald reports in a series of articles by Chloe Johnson, on the outcome of mesh surgeries in that country.

Specifically Johnson profiles 18-year-old Samantha Wiggins.

In "Dance Dreams Crushed by Mesh," Johnson reports Wiggins always dreamed of being a dancer but after she was implanted with surgical mesh to treat an umbilical hernia, bulging tissue near her belly button, those dreams died.

She had already had two operations using stitches to hold in the hernia back when she was ages four and eight. But the hernia bulge returned so in 2007 she had synthetic mesh to treat the hernia.

By 2009 the mesh was causing serious complications and needed replacing, according to the story.

Samantha Wiggins, New Zealand Herald, mesh injured

“I feels like something is cutting inside,” Wiggins says. She’s had to take months off of school and cancel dance lessons. Samantha and her mother said they were never informed about the risks associated with synthetic mesh. Here is the story.

On October 21, Johnson reports on Steve Ross who is in pain and a wheelchair after a controversial mesh surgery to repair a hernia.

In November of last year, Ross had a hernia on the right side of his groin. A polypropylene mesh implant was used on the 48-year-old. Not only in pain, his groin began to swell. Ross had to be hospitalized as one testicle was removed.

Nine months later and a lot of pain killers doctors finally discovered mesh growing into his abdominal wall and entrapping his nerves. Another surgery removed some of the mesh six weeks ago but now the pain is more severe than before. He spends the day in bed.

Ross and hundreds of others contacted the paper after it began to run stories of mesh complications. One woman wrote her husband died from mesh complications.

“Royal Australasian College of Surgeons councilor and surgeon Richard Perry said there was a lack of information available about the mesh despite it being used to repair hernias since the 1970s. However, he said the introduction of polypropylene surgical mesh had significantly lowered the complication and recurrence rate. 'But it has come at its own price and we are still evolving in our learning about meshes.' "

He said the college believed mesh was better than the traditional method of stitches. That story appears here.

Steve Ross, mesh injured, New Zealand Herald

Not surprisingly this story in The New Zealand Herald, "Health bodies stand behind surgical mesh," October 7 reports health authorities in New Zealand still stand behind the use of surgical mesh even amid the mounting complications.

The New Zealand Herald series of reports has unleashed a flood of comments from mesh-injured readers who tell “horrific accounts of complications.

Among them Carmel Berry, 48-years-old who says it feels like she’s been “sitting on barbed wire” for eight years. That’s when she had surgery for a prolapsed bladder using polypropylene mesh. She has not been offered mesh removal. With no evidence of injury, only pain, she was denied government compensation.

Since 2008, ACC, Accident Compensation Corporation, a government insurance provider, has reportedly paid more than $3 million in treatment rehab and compensation arising from mesh complications.

One professor, Ajay Rane, who is also the vice president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, refers to the July 2011 FDA warning that omitted injuries associated with hernia mesh, even though it is the same petroleum-based polypropylene mesh.

He believes it is safe, if not, the FDA would have withdrawn it.

The paper gives an email as a way to connect with other patients. Here is the story.

Heather Anderson, mesh injured, New Zealand Herald

In the first story by Johnson in the series, "Surgical mesh costs millions," (here), she highlights Heather Anderson, 61, of Auckland, who had mesh surgery for a hernia eight years ago. Anderson describes it as a "cheese grater" cutting her internal organs.

Gynaecologist Paul Macpherson says he repairs at least one mesh injury a week, yet he still supports the use of mesh to repair tissue weakness. He blamed surgeons from a bad placement.

Meanwhile, Wellington, NZ gynaecologist, Hanifa Koya says she is against the use of mesh due to a lack of research and a lax regulatory process.

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