Dr. Bendavid had been too ill to present at a recent hernia conference in Hamburg and friends helped him return home early.
The surgeon was a regular among hernia mesh societies where he warned that polypropylene mesh was overused and causing more harm than necessary. He urged surgeons to learn the technique of a suture repair, which has largely been replaced by mesh implants. His stance placed him squarely in opposition to mainstream doctors' preference for polypropylene mesh implants, and some did not refrain from criticizing him.
Dr. Bendavid's last published study was in April, “Pure Tissue Repairs: A Timely and Critical Revival.” He wrote, “The majority of hernias can be satisfactorily repaired by using the tissues at hand. The use of mesh prosthesis should be restricted to those few hernias in which tension or lack of good fascial structures prevents a secure primary repair.”
He also authored The Hernia Letter, which as of October, is no longer online.
When he died, Dr. Bendavid was involved in clinical research at Shouldice Hospital in Toronto, a world renowned non-mesh repair hospital, where he had practiced as a surgeon. He was also involved as an expert in upcoming hernia mesh product liability trials ahead in the U.S.
In announcing the death, John Hughes CPA and Managing Director of Shouldice Hospital said, “As you all know, Robert dedicated his life to further our knowledge and understanding of Abdominal Wall Hernias and his unwavering integrity to speaking the plain truth will be deeply missed.”
Vladimir Iakovlev, MD, a Canadian pathologist, who was working with Dr. Bendavid on a unpublished study says, “The main point in the manuscript is that complication rates after mesh surgery (or any surgery or long-term drug) is a time-dependent number. It takes about 4-5 years for 50% of long-term complications to manifest, and then another 10-15 years for the remaining complications to declare themselves. Short studies underestimate complications. For example, 4-5 years of follow up will underestimate complication rates by 50%. However, these short studies are widely used to claim that complication rates after mesh surgery are low."
Bruce Rosenberg, a Florida-based patient advocate and friend of Dr. Bendavid writes:
"Robert Bendavid was the consummate patient advocate he reviewed pt cases without charging anything, several hundred, tireless despite fact ostracized by numerous colleagues and friends who did not support him in his endeavor that mesh was overused and potentially dangerous and that tissue repairs are a safe alternative. Given that what the pt needs be respected. Spent many years Shouldice surgeon he had experience understanding many approaches. Born in Morocco, he was a surgeon in Israel and Canada, he wrote textbooks on hernia repair, spoke several languages fluently. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was lighthearted quoting Greek literature and well as Mel Brooks movies.
He was extremely supportive. I met him in 2008 and he approached me and said its time we did something about this."
Rosenberg says Dr. Bendavid did not believe polypropylene mesh should never be used. Instead, he believed in the proper patient evaluation for an appropriate condition. Dr. Bendavid believed in tissue repairs for primary hernias but he felt femoral hernias did need a mesh because they had the highest recurrence rate. He invented a mesh device for femoral hernias specifically.
Mesh erodes thru the spermatic cord and vas deferens, Rosenberg repeated. "Heed his warning."
“Few people will ever be on his level.”
Kath Sansom writes, “Robert was a solid support to my Sling The Mesh campaign and even traveled to London for the first UK debate into mesh implant to support me in October 2017. He will be sorely missed by myself and the global mesh injured community. RIP to great man who I considered a dear friend.”
Hernia mesh surgeon, and one of the founding members of the Canadian Hernia Society, John Morrison of Canada said “Nobody can fill Robert’s shoes.”
Dr. Kevin Petersen, YouTube, No Insurance Surgery
Kevin Petersen, hernia surgeon from Las Vegas writes:
"My most heart felt condolences to Robert's family and to his colleagues like me who consider him a friend and a mentor. There is no one who has his understanding of hernias and the complications of mesh hernia surgery. There is no one like him who had the integrity and courage to speak the truth about the errors in the Standard of the Standard of Care in hernia surgery. When I visited the Shouldice Hospital and Toronto he was a wonderful host. He spent an entire day with me touring Niagara Falls, he took me to the Shouldice hospital and introduced me to Dr. Shouldice and all of the staff surgeons, We went to his apartment and he showed me his library which was incredible, and he gave me a copy of one of the many books that he authored. He was my friend."
Dr. Robert Bendavid on MND
Bendavid Memorial and Comments
Canadian Journal of Surgery February 2016
Research Gate- Robert Bendavid