Suffering in Silence: Diane Maassen Tells FDA Panel About Her Nightmare with Pelvic Mesh Sling

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Suffering in Silence: Diane Maassen Tells FDA Panel About Her Nightmare with Pelvic Mesh Sling

Jerry and Diane Maassen

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 – Editors Note: I attended the Food and Drug Administration expert panel convened on September 8 & 9, 2011 to listen to patients and industry as well as surgeons who use pelvic mesh to treat incontinence and pelvic floor weakness in women and hernias in men. All of the injured patients were articulate, sincere, and injured. When they spoke the room grew quiet and everyone appeared to be listening. Jerry Maassen helped his wife to the podium to speak. He said he accompanies her to doctor appointments. He appeared very attentive and the Maassens seemed like very nice people, the sort of folks you want for a neighbor or a relative. They did not seem like the type of people who would stand up in front of a panel of strangers and talk about incontinence, intercourse, or the nightmare of pelvic mesh, but they did. Here is Diane’s FDA Presentation 9/9/11

Diane  Maassen

AMS S.P.A.R.C. Bladder Sling Surgery

October 2007

     Good morning. I am Diane Maassen and this is my husband Jerry. Thank you to the panel for allowing us to address you today.

In 2005, we were living a very active retirement in Las Vegas, Nevada. I began having a leakage problem when I coughed, sneezed etc. so I went to see urologist in Las Vegas, and he suggested trying different medications such as Detrol, Ditropan, & Vesicare.

Well I tried them all, and after taking these medications for many months none of them seem to help. He then suggested that I have a sling inserted in my vagina to hold up my bladder. He said it was less invasive than customary bladder surgery.

H e sent me home with a VHS video tape to watch on the S.P.A.R.C. sling manufactured by the American Medical Systems (AMS), and the ladies on the video seem to be satisfied with the results.

But the video did not explain or caution against any serious dangers or risks associated by having this product inserted vaginally.

The doctor scheduled the surgery for Oct. 16th 2007. The procedure was done as an outpatient day surgery. I was sent home after surgery with an inserted catheter and was told by the doctor that I should recover in 2-3 weeks.

     Well, I didn’t recover in 2-3 weeks, it took me 5 months to just get out of bed. My body rejected the S.P.A.R.C. sling from day one.

I have had nothing but problems since I had the surgery. I spent days & days in that bed with horrific pelvic and stomach pain. I then became incontinent and could not fully empty my bladder, that caused me to have numerous urinary tract infections over the next 4 years. My husband & I have not been able to have intercourse since the surgery because it is too painful.

As time went on, the pelvic pain continued and I developed more bowel problems. I was going to the bathroom about 20-25 times a day. In Oct. 2008, after being so depressed from constant pain & suffering, my husband and I decided to move from Las Vegas back to Texas to be with our 3 children & 4 grandchildren.

My problems still continued after the move to Texas. My bowel problems became worse, so I went see a gastroenterologist in Arlington, TX. He then performed a colonoscopy which was negative for any type of cancer, and ordered a cat scan of my stomach which showed a large mass in the area of my left kidney. Because of the cat scan findings & ongoing urinary tract infections, he then referred me to a special urologist.

After the consultation & examination by this urologist, she referred me to another colleague of hers who specializes in female stress incontinence. After several tests over several weeks, he said I needed surgery to repair the sling by trying to loosen it up.

My husband & I asked him about the mass that showed up on the cat scan, so he sent me to another urologist who specializes in kidneys only.

At the consultation with the kidney specialist, he had a large TV screen in his office & wanted my husband & I to look at the cat scan with him. We were stunned & scared at what we were watching on the TV screen. It showed that my left kidney had become so large & hydronephrotic, that it had pushed all of my organs to the right side of my stomach. The doctor said that he needed to perform surgery right away to remove the kidney.

     On June 11th, 2010, I had 2 surgeries in one day with 2 different urologists. One performed the 1st surgery which involved cutting out part of the sling to loosen it up. Then the kidney specialist performed the 2nd surgery which involved the removal of my left kidney, and the doctor said it was the size of a soccer ball. He had to remove 3 liters of fluid before he could remove the kidney.

I did recover from these surgeries after a painful post-op process, but I still have frequent urination problems. I am in the bathroom around 12-15 times a day & still have to wear pads constantly for leakage, as well as having continuing bowel problems.

I just had my bladder tested again on August 19th at my doctors office, and he said my sling & bladder is still a problem.

He prescribed some new medication, & if that doesn’t work, he said I will either need a 3rd surgery on the sling, or a type of pacemaker product to control the bladder. He also told us while we were there, that he is convinced that the sling caused me to lose my left kidney.

     I want to know now  – What do I do?

I didn’t have any of these problems before the sling was inserted.

I have now lost a vital major organ.

I am very angry about what I had to go thru for the past 5 years. I know I will continue to go thru many medical problems in the future, & I have lost all quality of life for the last 5 years.

So I ask you the Panel & the FDA to prohibit any of these devices NOW so that more perfectly healthy women will not end up going thru this NIGHTMARE!!!!

Thank you for listening!

By |2011-09-16T20:15:14+00:00September 16th, 2011|News, Patient Profiles|8 Comments

About the Author:

I’m National News Editor, Jane Akre and I began Mesh Medical Device News Desk aka Mesh News Desk (MND) in the summer of 2011 just after the Food and Drug Administration issued an explicit warning to the public that complications associated with surgical mesh used for prolapse repair (POP) and incontinence (SUI) are NOT rare! That was the starting point for the litigation you see today and thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women whose lives have been altered, some permanently, by the use of this petroleum-based product.


  1. Paula April 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    I too have suffered many of the comp, ications you have suffered. I just have the Interstem surgery done in Jan. 2013, it has help about 40 percent..I still urinate about 12-15 times a day, I have to still wear pads every day, the meds did not help with controlling my urges… I have been thru pure hell for 3 years now, I was fired after 22 1/2 years of service due to being out sick, lost my medical on myself and family, I am now on disability…my family and I have been thru pure hell………due to the AMS SLING!!!!!!

    And being told for 3 years there is nothing wrong has been very stressful to say the least and to know that all the doctors and specialist I have been to and no one connected the dots nor would belive the sling had anything to do with my multiple conditions has been hell.

    I am constantly short of breath, my toes, feet, and fingers turn blue, I was diagnosed with restrictive lung disease, for 9 months I had a left paralyzed vocal cord, I was diagnosed I 2010 with lupus and on and on and every doctor told me they nave no idea why i nave these conditioins…my sling is intertwined in my tissues, my new doctor tried to get some of it out but over 3/4 of it is still in me…I am so glad we are finally being heard and taken seriously..theses companies need to pay dearly for what they have allowed to be done to us, even though the money is not going to replace the pain, suffering and the lost time from our families. I suffer and am in pain every day, I can’t do the daily family things I could do in the past, I can’t stand and hold our grandson or carry him due to the pain in my back, hips and legs intensifies. I can’t play any sports anymore, my husband and I would walk 3 to 4 miles every evening after dinner, I can’t do that anymore either

    Just some of my thoughts….

    • Jane Akre April 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Paula- I am so sorry… all for an AMS sling indeed… I just watched the PBS story and they interviewed the medical device lobbying head. As they often say, any curtailing of medical devices and requiring them to go through pre-market review would “curtail innovation,” hurt jobs etc. I wonder how YOUR innovation and job has been impacted. People or Products- what do we care about more? You should be in touch with Hope Pagano in that she is pursing the lupus link to mesh… see her profile up top.

      • Paula April 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm - Reply

        Thank you Jane, yes I was reading her notes also.

        Kathy hope you are well.

        I pray a message is sent loud and clear to the manufactures and they pay dearly for our suffering and know that we know our bodies and we are not stupied like they make you feel.

    • Kathy April 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      Paula, I feel so sad reading all you have been through. I too have AMS sling put into me in 2007. Today I suffer with so many different issues such as groin pain, hip pain, knee pain and am unable to have sexual relations with my husband. I walked around all these years trying to suck up my pain and all the time thinking it was my imagination.

      What will the future bring? HOW can insurance providers not question these implants with all the lawsuits and FDA warnings?

      The hardest part for me is to try and understand what and how to get my health back. I am so angered by the lack of doctors speaking up and helping us. To imagine them still putting it in women sickens me.

      My prayers are with you as you have endured much more pain then I have.

    • Renee Walkowski April 23, 2015 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      Paula, I cried when I read your post, I felt like I was living and in your shoes, because you stated everything as if you were living my life and in my shoes.

      The difference, I just recently put the dots together and realized that all my health issues maybe related to my AMS Sparc Sling (vaginal mesh). I too have had nothing but problems since, my surgery 5/08/08. I haven’t worked for a few years, I have no heath insurance and not of age for Medicare, I have gone to doctors and they too tell me there is nothing wrong with you, everyone refers that my weight is the culprit. I too ” can’ t seem to see any light at the end of this tunnel, (unable to walk long distances etc.) …constant pain! I am always looking for answers to something I feel will never be taken care of. I would love to be able to travel and visit my family and children who live in other states” too.

      My health issues have gotten worse lately, and now it is affecting me emotionally. I need to find a doctor that understands that this is not all in my head, and that it is related to my vaginal mesh surgery and be willing to document that. I am scared that when I will find that doctor, I will have to undergo more surgeries, but won’t be able to pay for them, and then I will loose what abilities I still have. I actually have contacted my surgeon and so far has not gotten back to me, I am told because I have not seen him since 2011, and no insurance, he has to decide whether he wants to treat me and now I am just waiting for a call back, if ever. Not only am I concerned with the money issues, but in reading and educating myself more on AMS Sparc Mesh, I have found information that states “it is not always possible to remove all of the mesh, that you should have it totally removed (but is not always possible) even after multiple surgeries. Also, that there is no guarantee that the pain will even go away!” So in the back of my mind, am I destined to live with this, pain and debilitation mesh. We can only support each other, and I feel that you can and only Mesh survivors can truly understand the despair that we are feeling, and the loss of control of our emotions, bodies, mind and spirit. I too was venting and thanks for listening!

      • Jane Akre April 23, 2015 at 11:28 pm - Reply

        Paula- Let us know where you are located…there might be an expert in your area…Thank you and I’m sorry..

  2. dj.newbie April 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I had a total hysterectomy 3 and 1/2 years ago, mesh implant for prolapse and have had nothing but problems since then. Terrific stomach and back pain and many of the symptoms you speak of. I am always at the doctors office and they tell me: “oh there is nothing wrong with your mesh”. Three months ago had to undergo another bladder lift and had a second mesh implanted. I must be NUTS. I was so desperate though because my bladder was crowning! Since my 2nd mesh implant I have went down hill fast. I literally hurt all over and can’t even use my right arm now. Too much low back pain, another UTI; yulk. I can’ t seem to see any light at the end of this tunnel. Constant prayer and constant pain! I am always looking for answers to something I feel will never be taken care of. I would love to be able to travel and visit my children who live in other states and I can’t sit for any period of time. I guess I just needed to vent and when I found this website and what all of you are going through I figured this was the perfect place to do so. Sorry we all have to go through such terrible ordeals, but nice to know we are not alone. At times I think I’m going to LOSE it….which I’m sure you can understand. I don’t know where to turn next and keep praying that the Lord leads me to a doctor who can help. Thanks for listening and God Bless all of you.

  3. Shirley July 22, 2015 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    I too have had a bladder sling put in and many complications since then. I have had Uterine Cancer and Stage 4 Endometriosis. I had a complete hystorectomy 2 1/2 years ago. Now my bladder issues are worse. I wet myself when I sneeze, hurt during intercourse and wear pads all the time. It is hard for me to lose weight and I have bowel problems. Not sure where this all ends. I am back on bladder medication too. Something has to give.

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