Jacqui Scott is making headlines in New Zealand. The Napier resident has been the subject of a column by Kerre McIvor of the New Zealand Herald, as well as a feature article in New Zealand Women’s Weekly.
The November 3 Herald article, entitled “Rape victim may yet get justice,” reports that Scott’s ordeal began in 2006 when she was raped. Because her injuries were so severe she underwent a nine-hour operation to repair the damage. During that time she received two mesh implant- one the Prolift Total Pelvic Floor Repair System (Johnson & Johnson, J&J), the other the IVS Tunneller, made by Tyco (Covidien).
The Prolift is the Ethicon (J&J) mesh that has been taken off the market in the U.S. for economic reasons not because it is the subject of tens of thousands of lawsuits, says the company. Background story is here.
Scott tells Mesh News Desk she felt pain right away, pain in her back, legs and stomach, but doctors told her what she was feeling was in her head and a result of her attack. She knew it was in her body and she kept looking for solutions. Online she found two warnings from the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) concerning complications associated with transvaginal mesh – one issued in 2008 the other issued in 2011. The latter one said mesh complications were not rare and that the use of mesh might not be worth the risks.
The problem in New Zealand, as in most of the rest of the world, is that many doctors were trained to implant mesh with little concern of how to remove it if complications occurred. Transvaginal mesh was designed to be a permanently placed medical device, yet manufacturers did not consider how to address complications. As a result, there are few doctors around the world capable of doing a full, safe removal, also known as an explant.
Jacqui was told there was no one in all of New Zealand who could perform the operation and she would have to access competent medical care in the U.S. New Zealanders receive medical care through the country so the next challenge was to get the country to pay for that trip. She met with her Accidental Compensation Corporation (ACC) manager. The ACC corporation administers New Zealand’s no-fault injury compensation program for the country.
Scott was told New Zealand would not pay for a trip to the U.S. to a Dr. Shlomo Raz at UCLA, Dr. Veronikis in St. Louis or Dr. Margolis in the San Francisco Bay area, some doctors known to be able to remove mesh in many patients. The ACC says by law it is prevented from funding overseas operations for any individual. With encouragement, ACC has approached the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Australia and New Zealand to determine if anyone in Zealand can perform the operation. Why not bring the doctor to New Zealand says one reader?
“Trying to force me to a surgeon here and that would be dangerous because they are not trained to relieve it here. I’ve got the Prolift the big one. The one designed to put in and never to come out.”
Q: Jacqui- What are you finding in terms of competent medical help in New Zealand?
“There are no surgeons that could remove that one here. They are closing ranks; they are backing each other up. My GP is very good. He looks out for me as well as he can. But the surgeons here are too scared to touch the mesh and too scared to speak up about mesh as well. Our government is still saying it’s safe. I know someone who three weeks ago had mesh put in. I’ve talked to her now because I didn’t know her before. I gave her information about what kind of mesh she’s got. The scary thing is it’s one of the surgeons I’ve spoken to. He admitted there were problems with mesh but he just put it in.
“Unfortunately mine is designed once put in and never to come out because there are six arms. I’ve got two different types, the Tunneller with two arms and I’ve got Prolift with six arms, so there are eight arms of mesh in me. They’re are all saying it’s too complicated to handle. I don’t know what my government is doing. I don’t have medical insurance I’m on a pension I can’t afford medical insurance. The government insurance had covered us and they are saying they will not pay for overseas treatment.”
Q: Who did you approach about overseas treatment?
“We have a government insurance agency, ACC, Accident Compensation Corporation. That’s the government agency. They had covered the injury but they say legislation prevents them for paying for treatment overseas. I’ve got a lawyer looking into it now. ACC has known about this the government agency has known about mesh they’ve been involved since 2008 if you look t their web site you’ll see there are case studies on there yet they developed no policies to deal with the problem.”
Q: Can you file a lawsuit in your country?
“No I was joining the MDL in the states but I haven’t been able to find another lawyer. The lawyer I had took herself off my case because I have two meshes inside me and right now one is in the MDL and one isn’t. They don’t know what kind of damage is done by one mesh when compared to the other mesh. So I’m not suing. It was an Australian firm filing through an American lawyer with the MDL in the states. She dropped me and I tried to find another lawyer. They say it’s very difficult with two meshes from different companies and nobody knows what damage each one has done. One company could blame the other company.
“When you answered my questions the other day (about sales reps influencing sales of mesh) it really upset me. It makes me wonder whether the other person in there was a rep because there were three people in the theater when I had the surgery. I asked why was the IVS Tunneller put in me? Both meshes were put in at the same time.”
Q: Do you have your medical records to see who was in the room?
“Yes I do and I recognize two of the names but not the third. One is a gynecologist and the other a urologist, the third person? It says the name of the third person but it doesn’t say what she was doing there, it makes you wonder.”
Q: Tell me about your campaign to raise money?
“I’ve had lots of newspaper stories and they went really well. But everybody is sharing the fundraiser as much as they possibly can for me. I have been emailing Dr. Raz asking him questions and because I’ve been told most of the surgeons here only want to do partials, I asked him whether or not they are a good idea. And he replied to that. I asked him what happens if the mesh is left inside me. And Teresa Hale Sawyer of TVT-NO has written a letter to my government and it’s got all the information about the chemicals attached to it. She sent me an email to say meshes reading it and get back next week. Teresa’s done a really good report it’s really excellent.”
Q: Was your rapist ever convicted?
“I was celibate for 16 years then I got raped I had a slight prolapse before the rape but after the rape my pelvic problems got worse. Everything was outside, bowel and the bladder were outside of the vagina. I never reported the rape because I found out he had raped somebody else as well he was arrested and charged with that put away for a very long time. The counselor I had at the time said I wasn’t in the right space to go through the inquisition. They told me to leave it. They said I can still put in a report if I want to. The guy’s got preventative detention meaning he’s there for as long as he needs to be, which could be life because he is mentally disturbed.”
Q: How old were you when that happened?
“It was 2005 when it happened. On September 7, 2006 the mesh was put in. Today I’m 61 years old.”
Q: Would you say you had informed consent?
“That’s a joke. My surgeon produced a brochure that has the warning on it and he said that’s what he warned me with. It came out during Linda Gross case (Ethicon, Prolift February 2013) there were no warnings. The doctor committed fraud and the government department are accepting his word. He also said he warned me the morning of the surgery. He came to my bedside at 8 am he but said at 7:30 they gave me pre-meds. I was unconscious. He is such a liar.
“There are four women he’s operated on and damaged, four I know he’s damaged and has lied to them too and lies about saying they were warned as well. Meanwhile, he talks about “partials” of mesh in a private hospital. He’s getting money from both ends, that to me is disgraceful.”
Q: What are you symptoms?
“I’ve got erosion into my vaginal wall. Possibly my bladder and now my GP thinks it might have penetrated my abdominal wall because I’ve got a lump. But it’s taken seven years to find someone who told me the truth. I kept going back to the implanting surgeon and he said it was all in my head and there was nothing wrong. When I got my medical reports on the last cystoscopy, he injected me with steroids and an anesthetic because my bladder was red. I’ve been told that’s a sign of erosion. So obviously it had eroded but he didn’t want to say. I went to a private surgeon who examined me and she found the erosion straight away. She could feel the spines of the mesh. She said she was going to try to get it but she was also going to sign me up for a 9 to 12 hour operation. My GP didn’t like the idea of that because it’s too long for anybody to be under anesthesia for that length of time. I was cross about it but he probably did me a favor.”
“I was elated I finally found somebody who believed I was telling the truth. I didn’t know anything about the Prolift I just knew I was hurt and something was wrong. I didn’t know the Prolift was so big I didn’t ask if she removed it prior whether she’s done that surgery. I didn’t ask whether it would be a partial or a full. So when I think about it, I know he did me a favor. Dr. Raz has written to me that in order to remove the Prolift and Tunneller he takes 1.5 to 2 hours. That is a great deal of difference.”
Q: Are you in pain?
“Oh, yes, I’m on morphine right now. I don’t want to be but I’m not coping with the amount of pain. I’m incontinent and I’m getting infections and my bowels don’t work properly anymore.”
Q: How much money you need?
“Two-hundred thousand (US dollars) to cover everything. It’s not as if I’ll be able to come straight back. I’ll be there two to three months before I can travel back home and all that time I will have to survive. It’s around $241,000 New Zealand.”
Q: How much have you raised?
“About $45,000 New Zealand.”
Jacqui Scott has booked her testing March 5, 2014 at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)Urology department with Dr. Shlomo Raz and has surgery scheduled for March 6, 2014.
Give A Little fundraiser online
New Zealand Women’s World, November 18, 2013
New Zealand Herald, November 17, 2013
New Zealand Herald, November, 3, 2013
IVS Tunneller 510k approval by the FDA April 2001 (includes a good description)
Background on IVS Tunneller
ACC New Zealand
FDA Public Health Notification on Transvaginal Mesh, October 2008
FDA Safety Communication on Transvaginal Mesh, July 2011