On this page, you’ll find the inspiring and heart-breaking stories of mesh-injured patients who have chosen to fight back. It can often feel impossible to see through the darkness of debilitating chronic pain, especially when no one seems willing to listen. We hope the stories of other patients in similar situations prove that you are not alone.
- Daughter Fighting Late Mother’s Pelvic Mesh Case (November 27, 2017)
- Teresa Stevens Speaks Out About How She Got Involved in Boston Scientific Lawsuit (June 6, 2016)
- Hernia Mesh Patient Advocate – Many Questions, Few Answers For Those Patients (March 23, 2016)
- Hernia Mesh-Injured Doug Bean: Suffering In Silence & Neglect (November 17, 2014)
- Richard Howden On A Cash Settlement Following Mesh Litigation? It Didn’t Happen For Him. (January 26, 2014)
- Mesh Lawsuit Victor, Christine Scott Establishes ‘Mesh Gone Wrong’ Website (August 30, 2012)
- Trudy Thomas: Suffering In Silence & Financially After Kugel Mesh Settlement (August 19, 2012)
- Couple Finds No-Mesh Hernia Repair Doctor In Fresno (April 30, 2012)
- Sheri Ragan Still Suffering From Biologic Hernia Mesh (February 3, 2012)
- Jeff Silverman: Suffering in Silence Over Hernia Mesh Pain (November 12, 2011)
Daughter Fighting Late Mother’s Pelvic Mesh Case
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, November 27, 2017 ~ Mary Dickson plans to go up against healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson over its pelvic mesh on behalf of her late mother, Vada Mae Smith, unless she can find a law firm to take her case.
Vada Mae Smith spent most of her life in Summers County, West Virginia.
Her father, Daniel Green Sears, was a railroader and his wife handed one-month old Vada Mae over to Daniel on a street corner in Hinton W.V. a few days before Christmas 1942.
When he married, he would be able to gain official custody under West Virginia law, but that didn’t happened until Vada was four years old.
Eventually, the mother went on to marry a richer man who worked in the Chevrolet plant in Cleveland.
At the end of her mother’s life, Vada asked if she had ever done anything her mother was proud of. No, she was told.
Mary, Vada Mae’s daughter, says Vada suffered from abandonment issues all of her life.
Vada cleaned houses for a living. She had five children and gave them biblical names. Her husband, Robert Buckland, father of her children, died in May 1972 of a heart attack.
Vada Mae died September 13, 2016. The cause of death is listed as multisystem failure. No medications could address her antibiotic-resistant chronic infections.
Vada Mae Smith was 73 years old.
The last 16 years of Vada’s life were a living hell, says her daughter, spent in and out of the hospital and nursing homes.
Mary says her mother’s health declined after she received two transvaginal mesh implants, one in 2001 and another in 2006. Both were made by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
Mary Dickson is now the personal representative of her mother’s estate.
Mary reached out to MND to help tell her mother’s story and find someone to represent her mother in a possible wrongful death and product liability lawsuit against the healthcare giant. The case is set for trial in spring 2018.
The Smith complaint is filed in federal court in the Southern District of WV, (No. 2:15-cv-02800), where more than 104,000 defective product cases have been consolidated against seven manufacturers, alleging transvaginal mesh is defective.
It states a TVT (Tension-Free vaginal tape) was implanted in Vada Mae to treat incontinence by Dr. Michael Lassere, MD at Low Moore Virginia Columbia Alleghany Regional Hospital on August 17, 2001.
But Mary says she has found records that show the TVT Blue, used to treat incontinence, was implanted 70 days before it received the Food and Drug Administration’s 510(K) clearance for market.
She also found medical records that show a second mesh, a TVT-O, was implanted in 2006.
The original Smith complaint didn’t have the second mesh or trichard hhe fact that the TVT Blue should not have been on the market.
The complaint did not contain the additional surgery Vada underwent in September 2002 to fix her prolapse, is missing two hospice recommendations that can be considered a cause of death; the 20 transfusions to address mysterious rectal and vaginal bleeding, transfusions that made her blood type difficult to match; and the fact that antibiotics could no longer address her chronic UTI’s.
That too goes toward cause of death and holds as much weight as an autopsy and medical examiner,” she insists.
“We need as much evidence as you could gather to go up against J&J‘s lawyers. And two hospice referrals with UTIs antibiotic resistant I thought was very important because these are known mesh symptoms.” ~ Mary Dickson
She requested of her two law firms to amend the complaint and when they didn’t Mary asked to be dropped as a client. They agreed. She is proceeding Pro Se, Latin for “on one’s own behalf.”
Judge Joseph Goodwin who is overseeing the multidistrict litigation in Charleston, W.V. has given Mary until December 11th to obtain counsel or provide the court with evidence she is the sole beneficiary and has no creditors.
Leakage & Bleeding
Vada’s youngest boy, Jimmy, was born in October 1971 and soon afterward Vada began bleeding.
The next year had a complete hysterectomy. There was some question that she might have cancer, but no medical record, among the 3,000 pages Mary has collected, reflects that diagnosis and Vada received no treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy or radiation.
The complete hysterectomy in January 1972 removed the cervix, ovaries and uterus. Vada was 29 years old.
By the time she was referred to gynecologist Dr. Michael Lassere in 2001, she had started leaking urine. The condition was getting worse.
Dr. Lassere used a polypropylene mesh implant, the Ethicon Gynecare TVT-Blue System AA, with an abdominal accessories kit. The kit came with the tools used to implant the mesh.
Mary said she has found no informed consent documents.
After her TVT implant, Vada began experiencing problems.
Vada had a lot of pain in her right groin. She was still leaking but now she was losing her balance and falling. Vada developed MRSA in a wound in her right knee from a fall.
An interstim was implanted to tell her when she should pee but, Mary calls it “ridiculous.”
“She was still leaking even between. It wouldn’t vibrate. It (pee) would start rolling out of her.”
Mary says her mother felt aches and pain all over, in her abdomen and pelvic area, up the back of her legs. She had to take her fingers and move her bowel out of the way to urinate because something was blocking the urine flow. She could not have a bowel movement without difficulty.
She was upset and was treated for anxiety and fibromyalgia.
Mary says six months after the TVT was put in, Vada had a distinct odor that you could even smell it outside of her house. Mary believes its’ related to polypropylene, the synthetic polymer that is used to make transvaginal mesh. Her mother was incredibly embarrassed and it wouldn’t go away. You would smell it when she was on the commode, when her legs were apart in the bathroom.
The Mystery Patient
Dr. Joseph Moshy (Joseph Mouchizadeh) MD, urologist from Lewisburg WV, took over from Dr. Lassere, October 4, 2002.
A February 26, 2005, a record from Dr. Moshy says the patient has a catheter but it is unclear why she is bleeding.
The medical records show Dr Moshy decided to implant a second Ethicon mesh, the TVT-O (Obturator) on September 27, 2006.
The urinary tract infections never cleared up. Urine leakage and falls were a regular occurrence.
By February 2008, Vada was taken to the ER with chest pain, UTI’s and vomiting. Lab tests revealed chronic kidney disease. There was an increase in urine urgency. Back to the ER in October Vada experienced infections, rectal bleeding, urinary tract infections, COPD (she never smoked), gastritis, dizziness, and repeat UTI’s.
Vada Mae had been self-catheterizing to urinate since 2001 and told Mary urination was painful.
In August 2010 she was back in Raleigh General Hospital ER in Beckley WV, with cramping in the pelvic area. She had a kidney bacterial infection and UTI’s. Vada still had incontinence.
Two months later, it was back to the ER with a tear in her bladder and vaginal bleeding. Blood was found in her urine and she had MRSA. The source of the vaginal or rectal bleeding was never found. It never happened at the same time.
Mary says Vada was known as the Mystery Patient by every doctor because they could never find the source for her bleeding.
By August 2011, Vada Mae had been admitted to the ER five times for chronic infections, anemia, falls, UTIs.
Tests revealed her bacterial infections were resistant to multiple antibiotics. She entered a nursing home in November of that year. Vada Mae couldn’t walk or go to the bathroom on her own. She was on hydrocodone and bleeding constantly.
She was on a round of antibiotics and a urinalysis showed greater than 1,000 colonies of gram negative rods. She had grown resistant to Levaquin, Cipro and Bactrin. Dr Moshy said there was no more he could do. He gave her Vitamin C and said there was “no point in intervening on this lady.”
After that, Vada May was admitted to the ER every week until the end of her life.
An Ad On TV
In November 2014, Veda Mae saw an ad on television about the symptoms. She wrote it down. Vada told Mary, “I think this might be what’s wrong with me.”
So far, no one had identified the mesh as the culprit behind her ongoing chronic infections or her bleeding.
Mary contacted four law firms and she says every one of them wanted the case. One firm said 40%. That’s too much said Mary. Another wanted 33.3%. Mary went to the first firm and asked if it would match the 33.3%. They would, if it didn’t go to trial.
Mary, and her sister Ruth, went back to Dr. Moshy in early 2015 and said they wanted the mesh removed. He refused because it hadn’t eroded, there was nothing wrong with the mesh, Mary was told, and removal would do more harm than good. The records show,
“Cystoscopy was performed…..…there was a whole mass of papillary type inflammatory change around the trigone and around the ureteric orifices. I was able to see the left ureteric orifice with no difficulty. The right ureteric orifice was extremely difficult to see and covered with heaped up material…I was able to spot weld these areas and managed to control the bleeding.”
A new urologist, Dr. Lohri from Charleston, WV, found unidentified sediment in her bladder.
In a desperate bid to identify her problems doctors diagnosed chronic kidney disease stage 3, (an autopsy found no problem), and Parkinson’s disease (a brain autopsy showed it was normal).
Vada Mae was identified with untreatable sepsis in September 2015. Superbugs they were called. Antibiotics would no longer work on the infections. The hospital could no longer match her blood, Type A+ because it was so altered from transfusions and antibodies, it had become slightly different blood.
A high fever and white blood cell count continued until her death.
ER visits now numbered at least 15 to 20 times a year, Mary says, until the end of Vada’s life.
Vada developed green sores, the same green in her catheter bag, says Mary. By August 2016 she went downhill. Vada wouldn’t wake up or talk. She was completely dehydrated; she wouldn’t drink or eat.
Despite her declining health, Vada knew her daughters. She would light up when they entered the room.
Cause Of Death
When Vada Mae died September 13, 2016, she was struggling with a 104 degree temperature and was fighting to breathe. Mary and Ruth asked for morphine but the nursing home was slow to respond. Mary says her mother was suffering at the end.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death was interstitial cystitis, chronic with multidrug resistant bacteria leading to multisystem failure. The bladder was three times its normal size. There were multiple areas of apparent bacterial colonization.
“Dense adhesions make dissection of the pelvic structures difficult, it says. “There is a palpable foreign body present in a dense scar on the anterior surface of the residual vagina.” A dissection found dark blue to brown thin band-like structures of densely and fibrotic tissue.
Mary is still grieving her mother and sister Ruth who died in January 2017 of atherosclerosis. The hospital report shows Ruth had acquired sepsis as well.
“I will give what I have left of my Mom-the untold and dismissed facts and records, of what a Powerful and Trusted Company, J&J has done to millions of women….. My Mom was literally tortured to death, by a 2 cent piece of odor-absorbing and odor-retaining piece of plastic, implanted in her with no turning back.”~ Mary Dickson
Meanwhile, Ethicon set the deposition of implanting physician, Dr. Lassere for November 16, but the case is stayed in an order by Judge Goodwin. He has given Mary Dickson until December 11th to find representation or proceed Pro Se.
Vada Mae Smith’s trial is set for next May 15th along with 150 remaining pelvic mesh cases naming defendant Ethicon, amassed in Wave 7 (here) before Judge Goodwin. The trials will be continuous until all 150 cases in Wave 7 cases are completed.
Vada Mae Smith would have been 75 years old on November 26.
Teresa Stevens Speaks Out About How She Got Involved in Boston Scientific Lawsuit Over Counterfeit Transvaginal Mesh
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, June 6, 2016 ~ On October 27, 2014, Teresa Stevens was preparing for a scheduled hysterectomy when, at the suggestion of her doctor, she agreed to have a Boston Scientific Obtryx Halo vaginal mesh implanted into her body, like thousands of American women do each year. The problems started immediately.
“When I came out of surgery, my bladder wasn’t completely evacuating and I told my doctor I couldn’t feel my bladder,” the 46-year-old West Virginian said. “In almost two years since my surgery, I’ve regained no sensation.”
Two Years On, Mesh Symptoms Only Worsen
Today Stevens says she cries a lot. Stevens says her symptoms worsened—including frequent urinary tract infections, shooting pains in her abdomen and painful sex—she started growing more despondent by the day until, just a few months after her surgery, she decided to do something about it.
“I was at home one day and a commercial came on about problems caused by vaginal mesh, so I called the listed number for the law firm. They let me know about the problems surrounding the mesh, explaining that certain providers may have used a counterfeit product to create the medical device,” Stevens said. “I had a UTI at the time and I was hurting. I started crying when I found out that counterfeit mesh is possibly inside me.”
For Stevens, that one call revealed a wealth of knowledge about vaginal mesh and led her to file a lawsuit against Boston Scientific, the company that made her mesh implant.
A Conspiracy To Defraud Patients
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the company, but Stevens and her attorneys—Steve and Amber Mostyn of Mostyn Law and Harry Bell of Harry F. Bell Law in Charleston—allege that after losing their main mesh supplier, Boston Scientific panicked and decided to go outside the U.S. to China to source then smuggle into the U.S. thousands of pounds of potentially counterfeit mesh from China, that has been untested and non-FDA approved.
The discovery potentially could upset the company’s $120 million a year pelvic mesh revenue stream.
“It really upsets me thinking about what’s actually in me, because I don’t know if it came from China, if it’s counterfeit and what kind of chemicals are in there,” Stevens said. “I have no idea what’s going on in my body and I don’t know where these pains and infections are coming from.”
Implant Removal Proves Elusive
As for having the mesh removed, pelvic mesh is intended to be a permanent implant. Finding one of the few who specialize in mesh complications is another obstacle. First of all is it safe or will an explant procedure potentially do more harm.
Then there is the question of insurance, even if she can find a specialist. “Who even knows if my insurance will pay for it?”
Boston Scientific uses its Advantage mesh made of its proprietary Marlex polypropylene mesh. It claims to have implanted 500,000 women and to this day claims the mesh is biocompatible.
Mesh Lawsuits Near 100K
Billed as a minimally invasive procedure, there are 93,000 lawsuits consolidated in Charleston, WV naming seven mesh makers, Boston Scientific among them, in product liability lawsuits. Stevens has filed an action that alleges racketeering in bringing the mesh to the U.S. and fraud in its marketing. Here is her RICO action.
Since Steven’s class action lawsuit was filed earlier this year, progress has been made: A grand jury has convened in Charleston, W.Va, and sent out subpoenas for documents regarding Boston Scientific’s purchase of the materials.
Mostyn Law has also called on the FDA to further investigate the potentially counterfeit material from China to see if it’s equivalent to FDA-approved Marlex, or a specific type of polypropylene that is cleared by the FDA for use under its abbreviated 510(k) approval process.
The firm also asserts that even if the mesh is compliant with FDA standards, Boston Scientific has still violated counterfeiting laws by smuggling in the Chinese mesh.
“I Don’t Think Doctors Should Put Mesh In Anybody”
Stevens hopes that by bringing her case to the forefront of the conversation she’ll be able to protect other women from enduring a similar fate. Boston Scientific mesh allegedly made from the counterfeit raw material from China is still being used and implanted in women suffering from prolapse and incontinence.
“So many women with vaginal mesh have this uncertainty of ‘what’s in me.’ ” Honestly, I don’t think that doctors should put mesh in anybody, but especially not counterfeit mesh,” she said. “Would these doctors recommend vaginal mesh to their own mother or sister without knowing what’s exactly in it? I don’t think they would.” #
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, March 23, 2016 ~ They call every day. Mostly men but sometimes women who have had a hernia mesh implant and are experiencing complications.
What doctor will see me, they ask. Who is taking these lawsuits?
The answer is there are few answers for hernia mesh patients. For some reason, a number of people who receive a polypropylene hernia mesh are experiencing the same pain, infection and inability to move that pelvic mesh women are experiencing.
But unlike TVM cases – where are the lawyers?
Bruce Rosenberg, himself injured by hernia mesh, could be called an expert on the subject, but even he comes up empty. Rosenberg fields calls from Mesh News Desk and other sources. People tell him they have pain at the site of their hernia repair. He says it’s due to mesh erosion, migration, adhesion to nerves and the spermatic cord, the erosion of mesh into the bladder and into the colon.
Hernia mesh patients have just as many systemic issues as pelvic mesh women but consider that hernia mesh is generally larger than a “sling” used to support the urethra, they are facing a larger volume of inflammatory material in the body. Take a little strip of incontinence mesh and multiply it times 20-30.
As mesh expert Dr. M. Tom Margolis told the FDA in 2011, “The more mesh, the more mess.”
Rosenberg should know. Injured by hernia mesh years ago, today he is disabled. See his Profile here.
As a result he’s made it his business to understand polypropylene (PP) mesh and its complications. PP hernia mesh was fashioned into pelvic mesh by consultant/industry doctors in the 90’s, so its not surprising the reactions are the same as women have been experiencing.
The mesh is the same as polypropylene pelvic mesh- made of the polymer polypropylene, the same plastic used in carpet backing and the top of a Tick Tac box.
Rosenberg regularly attends the American Hernia Society meetings and confers with doctors around the country who are dealing with complications. He has testified before an FDA expert panel on mesh and brought a vidotape to FDA regulators of Dr. Heniford, hitting a plasticized piece of explanted hernia mesh on a table in a Johnson & Johnson promotional ad for its new larger pore mesh.
Every week he fields at least a dozen calls from the injured community.
“It used to be a search for a removal doctor. Now the first question is about litigation. They’ve been to so many doctors they are exhausted. They are not getting better and they are running out of money, patience and time,” he says.
“The typical person says their life has been ruined and they need help they are tired of being in pain. They’ve lost everything is the most common statement I have heard. They have no life, relationships have been ruined, they have nothing.”~ Bruce Rosenberg, patient advocate.
Hernia mesh survivors believe filing a legal action will get them the medical care they need. Rosenberg points to the few doctors he knows who can help – Dr. Kevin Petersen, Dr. Bruce Ramshaw, Dr. David Chen at UCLA, Dr. John Galloway in Atlanta, Dr. Todd Heniford in Charlotte, NC, Dr. Richard Miller in Tennessee and Dr Peter Billings in Washington State.
Rosenberg says these are hernia surgeons who remove mesh and have had good outcomes, or at least some good outcomes.
Many injured patients have tried to return to their implanting physician, but oftentimes, says Rosenberg, “Their complaints fallen on deaf ears. They are told to go to pain management.”
“They are told it’s in their head, it’s going to get better, all the while their statute of limitations is running out and their injuries are increasing due to mesh migration and failure.”
Why are trial attorneys not jumping on the hernia mesh cases? There is money to be made, speculates Rosenberg. “They’ve been led astray by an FDA trying to cover its mishandling of this and additionally by the sheer marketing power of the industry.”
The volume is there. There are an estimated one million hernia implants a year, according to the American Hernia Society.
Court testimony in pelvic mesh cases have shown that hernia mesh seems to have the same reaction once implanted in the body – it contracts, shrinks, encapsulates nerves. The small pore size prevents tissue incorporation and allows the mesh to curl, contract and degrade, according to expert testimony given by hernia mesh surgeon Dr. Uwe Klinge in a number of pelvic mesh trials.
Dr. Klinge has collected hernia mesh explants to study what happened while in the body. He testified at the Linda Gross trial against Ethicon that he knew the polypropylene mesh was defective and tried to warn Ethicon /J&J before it was sold. See the story here.
According to Dr. Heniford, the mesh shrinks with scarification and that in turn pulls the mesh with it. Even lightweight mesh has caused injury says Rosenberg, who himself is implanted with the Ethicon UltraPro, which was supposed to be an improvement over heavy weight mesh.
“The lightweight mesh is not the answer,” he says. “Patients still get infections and meshoma injuries.”
A meshoma is a mesh contraction moving away from the pubic bone and inguinal ligament causing the mesh to wrinkle or ball up which can cause the recurrence of the hernia. In Bruce’s case, the meshoma had eroded through the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity.
What is the answer?
A better product? A non-mesh repair? Sure, says Rosenberg, but that’s not for everyone. Some people do need a mesh, he believes. It’s identifying the patient who is appropriate, that’s the answer. Patients who might not do well without mesh are those who are obese, who smoke, who have a high activity level or work in jobs where there is heavy lifting. Rosenberg and others have observed those are factors that increase the chance of a failure.
Also some people naturally have a weak collagen matrix, the natural fibrous protein in connective tissue that supports skin and tissue.
Rosenberg has a nonprofit organization, The Meshoma Foundation. He says he needs to set up a website and work on doctor and patient education. “There needs to be a school that teaches tissue repair so residents could have the choice to learn that as part of treatment protocol, to learn both mesh and non-mesh repairs.”
And he plans to attend the American Hernia Society conference in Washington, D.C. March 30 to April 2, 2016. Rosenberg is a member of the group. Specifically you will find him in seminars that address chronic pain and he will look for any new devices patients can ask their doctor about so they are not subject to what is pushed on them.
The former social worker also continues to think about others. Too many patients cant afford to go for an initial medical consultant with an expert. He would like fundraising for that purpose to be part of the bigger plan. #
Americas Hernia Society conference, March 30-April 2, 2016, Washington, D.C.
Hernia Repair Program
Mesh News Desk, Patient Profile on Rosenberg, Jan. 6, 2014
Day 16: Linda Gross v. Ethicon, Scientist Knew Prolift Transvaginal Mesh was Defective, February 4, 2013 ~
Dr. Kevin Petersen, No Insurance Surgery, Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Bruce Ramshaw, Knoxville, TN
Dr. David Chen at UCLA, Santa Monica CA
Dr. John Galloway, surgeon at Emory University in Atlanta,
Dr. B. Todd Heniford, Charlotte, NC
Dr. Richard Miller, Nashville, TN
Dr. Peter Billing, Washington State
North Penn Hernia Institute and more recommendations
More chat rooms on hernia mesh
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, November 17, 2014 ~ Doug Bean is a hernia mesh-injured man living in Maine. Please read his story. It is what happens when humans ignore the plight of those suffering, even to the extent of discontinuing their medical coverage in their greatest time of need.
Should polypropylene mesh be contraindicated when one is already trying to recover from an accident? Should hernia mesh be the subject of litigation just like pelvic mesh, after all, it’s the same polypropylene mesh!
Mesh News readers can help reach out to the state so this man is not left to suffer on his own. Thank you!
My Name is Douglas Bean & a little over 2 years ago now (Sept 18th, 2012) I had a right side inguinal hernia repair using a mesh which I now know to be a C.R. Bard 3D-Max mesh prosthesis.
Living A Nightmare
I am now living the same exact nightmare that so many others are who have had mesh placed inside their bodies with empty promises; even after the FDA put out warnings regarding the use of mesh in 2011 and 2012.
To understand my full story, I must share that I was already disabled from a severe motor vehicle accident, in which a semi-truck hit my car three times while I was driving on the turnpike here in Maine, October 11th, 2010. The only reason I mention the accident is because I got the hernia doing core strengthening exercises at physical therapy when I was learning how to walk properly again early 2012.
The hernia wasn’t that bad at the time but because of my trouble with walking, a couple of months later, I fell getting out of the shower and it became a serious issue in which I was told that I had to stop all of my recovery therapies related to the accident, and get the hernia taken care of immediately.
“An Easy Operation, In And Out…”
So I went to see the surgeon who my primary care physician (PCP) sent me to see for a consult. It was a quick visit where it was confirmed I indeed had a right side inguinal hernia and possibly a left as well. I was told it was an easy operation, in and out, laparoscopic, that a piece of mesh would be put inside me and I would be good as new in a couple of weeks. They did “explore” the left inguinal canal but it turned out I only had the right side to be fixed.
At my consult, the surgeon didn’t ever give me an “informed consent talk” about the dangers of using mesh, nor did he ever give me the option of going the route of the $5 suture method. He just told me this is how we do it these days. And I asked him my questions that I had ready, like how long have you been doing this, “about 30 yrs” he told me. Have you ever had any problems? “No,” he said.
I was also raised in an era where if your mom brought you to the doctor, you trusted the doctor and let him do whatever he said he needed to do. I’d never heard of mesh problems at the time of my consult nor warned about the possible negative side effects. Nothing like that was ever shared with me by the surgeon or my doctors and I never thought to ask. So I went into the surgery with faith and trust that things would be exactly as the surgeon told me they would be. ‘Quick & easy, a day surgery, in & out and all good in 2 weeks.’
Well three days after the surgery I thought I was doing well. My core strength was coming back quickly. I didn’t need the pain meds. Then out of nowhere the next day, I felt something move inside me where the mesh is and then I was in the most agony and pain I have ever experienced in my life. I was in the fetal position crying like a baby.
Pain Meds Don’t Even “Touch The Pain”
I called the surgeon’s office several times over the next few days complaining of this severe crippling pain I was having and told them it felt like something moved inside of me, but I was told each time, “It’s all normal, just take your pain meds.” Well I didn’t want pain meds in my body so I didn’t take them. But finally I did and they didn’t touch the pain. I ended up in the E.R., all because of the pain which started after the 3rd day post-op.
I can’t move without agonizing pain of my right testicle being crushed and feeling like I’ve been kicked in the groin etc. Men when they are simply hit in that area by accident, are rolling on the floor in fetal position and agonizing pain. The pain shoots into the inside of my right thigh, hot burning sensation, then up the inguinal canal towards the incision areas.
A Normal Stage Of Recovery?
My surgeon told me this was the normal stage of recovery and continued to tell me the same for three months even though I was begging him to take the mesh out ASAP. He said no, too soon. Go take your pain meds, lay low and let us know of any/all changes. I knew on day three post op that something just wasn’t right.
Finally, after three months of him telling me this is all normal, I asked him if he had ever seen this before in any of his other patients and he said “No,” so I said to him, then how the heck are you telling me this is normal???
Pain Spreads, With No Relief In Sight
The more time that went by the pain areas spread quickly up into my abdomen all around the mesh and where it is placed. The intestine area right where the mesh is placed has continued to spread vertically across my mid abdomen (belly button line) starting from the right side where the pelvic bone is – then went toward my belly button across the top of the mesh and now spread 6″ to the other side of my belly button. It feels like I am being cut open and stabbed with a knife. The pressure in my groin is unbelievable.
Health Insurance Pulled
I’ve lost all quality of my life & have had to stay bedridden or on the couch even with pain meds since this all started.
Then to make things worse, my state of Maine dropped my Medicare December 31st when the Affordable Care Act went into place as law and because my state didn’t see fit to revamp its Medicare system they left me with no health insurance for the last 11 months.
No doctors will see me because I don’t have insurance. Even the surgeon who did the surgery has left me to suffer and won’t return my calls.
“I Do My Best”
Since my surgery went wrong, I can’t bathe myself and I hobble during play with my daughter outside. I do my best to try and keep it creative for her but it bothers me tremendously that I can barely get down on the floor and play with her for more than 15 minutes before I have to get into a reclined position due to my pain.
We draw and read and I push her on her swing, watch her on the playground with the dog and we watch movies too. When she is with me, I push myself hard overdoing it mainly because I don’t want her to see how bad I really am or me having to hold my groin and abdomen all the time while trying to make every attempt to do the fun things I used to be able to do with her. But as soon as she goes home I’m laid up for a good four or five days minimum.
I can’t even walk my dog 20 feet out in the back yard to take him around. He is two and a half years old. I got him several months before my surgery and I haven’t even walked him – not good for a pure bred German Shepherd with tons of energy.
Doctors, Health Insurance Are No Help
I feel like I’m losing my mind and the surgeon who did the operation has no interest in even hearing about the continued and worsening of my post-surgery symptoms even though he said to call his office & let him know of any worsening or changes in my condition.
I saw a second doctor after my surgeon told me he’d never seen this before and couldn’t explain it. “There is no known cause” and “most cases I’ve seen have cleared themselves up or healed on their own in a year or two” he said. So I have to lived with this now and the state of Maine knew I was in this situation needing more treatment and corrective surgeries when they took my health insurance from me.
My whole groin area feels like there are spiked sea urchins or razor blades moving through my intestines and under my skin, which actually causes severe itching on the top of the skin. I can feel lumps like lymph nodes that are very tender to touch around the mesh and incision areas. If I even graze those areas the instant pain caused is so severe, it makes me jump out of my skin, exaggerated example, but it’s needed to give the full extent of the pain I live with. This is such a severe medical situation and my doctors either half believe me or say it’s all in my head.
“No One Seems To Care”
I am 42-years-old and I need help. No one seems to care here in Maine. My female partner even left me because I can’t have sexual relations. I tried once but it was too painful for me. And no one has even thought to check to see if I am possibly allergic to the mesh.
I was a very outgoing person and avid outdoorsman, EMT, white water rafting & kayaking guide, rock climbing guide and instructor. I’ve owned several of my own small business since I was 25-years-old – the first was an indoor rock climbing gym and retail store. But since no one will help me or take responsibility of any kind. I’ve lost everything except my home of 16 years and frankly, that is next if I can’t find help.
Even the folks at the Department of Health and Human Services, who are the folks that run the Medicare system here in Maine will not talk to me. If I do get someone on the phone, they act concerned, tell me they’ll get back to me with information on getting my health care back, saying while on the phone with me, that they can’t believe this is happening and that no one will help me. Then even they never call me back after making promises to make sure they find out some information that can help me.
“Fighting To Get My Life Back”
I have no advocate. All I have is my 7-year-old daughter, who is my life, and I am fighting to get my life back but like this, I can’t even keep up with her for 10 minutes without having to lay down on the couch, where I spend 18-24 hours a day. I am at my wits end and am so desperate for relief from this pain caused by a supposed “simple surgery” that somehow went severely wrong and is now spreading throughout my body.
Everyone says they understand… at first; but that ends pretty quickly once the doctors, family and or friends reach a point where they don’t know what to do. It gets turned back on me. They get mad at me because I can’t do the things they know I used to do, then pull away from me all together leaving me alone. And I’ve literally been alone through all of this. No one really understands this nightmare, unless they are living with it!
Abandoned By Those Who Should Help
I’m in such a severe situation with no health insurance & no income due to this surgery and now every two weeks I’m worrying where will I find money just to pay for my medications. When the state of Maine took away my Medicare last December, they knew I had already been through 14-months of severe problems from the surgery and on expensive meds because they were paying for it. How they can leave someone hung out to dry, who’s completely bed-ridden, needing medications, more surgery & treatments, I will never understand.
The reasons stated in the letter to me for taking my health insurance away, were that 1.) You have no income & are 100% below Federal Poverty Standards. 2.) You’re 7-year-old daughter (whom I have shared custody of) does not live with you as her “primary residence.” These are not really good enough reasons to take away someone’s health insurance while they are in need of it the most in my opinion.
The state keeps bouncing me around telling me they will help, setting me up with the Department of Health & Human Services case workers – some of whom know me said they couldn’t understand why this is happening to me and that they would “get on it” to find out why I was denied health insurance that I had since 2005 through the state right when I need it the most.
Not one of them, no matter how concerned and kind they talked to me on the phone, has ever called me back. I was turned over to a new case worker in May, who seemed the most concerned and genuinely wanted to help me. Not even he will return my calls since we spoke on the phone and I’ve since gone over his head to supervisors who also told me the same as he did, and that they would get back to me. It’s been since July that I spoke to the supervisor with never a return calls from her either.
Doctor Lies In Medical Records
I recently saw the record of my last visit with the surgeon who performed my hernia repair (this is where I was able to see the type of mesh implanted in me). After 25 months of asking him what type it was, I had been ignored, not responded to & couldn’t even get my own medical records from the surgeon’s office. What makes me so mad & extremely upset though is that he wrote in my records that he told me several things that he NEVER did, that I didn’t follow through with his aftercare directions in a timely manner- but he never gave me any info other than take your pain meds and this will heal itself.
By that time my health insurance was taken away anyway & even if he had given me a treatment plan, I live an hour from his office and had no way to pay for medical treatments anymore or to even get there living alone.
He also wrote several things that JUST ARE NOT TRUTH and THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. Mainly the one comment that made me so upset was where he wrote that I told him that my right testicular pain had all but subsided when I was actually telling him that it had only been reduced with medications but that it was spreading up the inguinal canal towards the mesh and incision areas into my intestines. He is obviously trying to cover his butt.
I couldn’t believe it though and now I know why I was denied SSDI last month. The last time I saw this surgeon was Oct 2013 and then he has the nerve to write that I said to him, the testicular pain I had been complaining of to him since the surgery had all but resolved itself!?
I couldn’t believe it when I read that. I had even gone to see a urologist under the surgeon’s order (self-paid) and the surgeon wrote I hadn’t done it in a timely manner, yet knowing that he’d already sent me there the year before & that urologist told me he couldn’t help me.
Maine Officials Remain Silent
I’ve even written to my Maine state representative and state senator, local news channels, reached out to many different state organizations here in Maine looking for advocates, but I’m finding none willing at all to follow through and really help me. I just keep getting pushed on to the next doctor.
I’m not sure why men are not being recognized after they have mesh implants with complications? It’s the same mesh they’ve put in so many women causing so many to suffer. And point in fact, I was never even given the choice of mesh or no mesh. If I had, I never would have had the mesh surgery or I would’ve chosen the $5 suture method instead of putting an implant (I didn’t even know it was considered a prosthesis until two months ago) into my body which it is severely rejecting.
I’ve asked repeatedly for the surgeon to remove the mesh starting a month after the surgery right through six months post-surgery and he kept saying he could not go back in so soon. That was a flat out lie! The more time that goes by, the more the pain areas have spread now throughout my small intestines, groin, into my right leg, who knows where else now at 27 months post-surgery.
Most disgustingly is that the surgeon who did the operation on me will not even talk to me, see me or take calls from me for the last year and all I’ve ever wanted to share with him, which HE TOLD ME TO DO, is keep in touch with him & his office nurses, letting them know of ANY & ALL changes/worsening of my symptoms… Does anyone care? Is anyone listening?
Anyone wanting to advocate on behalf of Doug should contact the following. No one should fall between the cracks due to injury and the lack of a safety net. Here are some of the organizations that might be able to better Doug’s living situation with a little encouragement from you!
2) Mary C. Mayhew, Commissioner HHS
221 State Street
Augusta, Maine. 04333-0040
Richard Howden On A Cash Settlement Following Mesh Litigation? It Didn’t Happen For Him.
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, January 26, 2014
My name is Richard Howden. I got a hernia while working in November of 2006. It was not much of a hernia as hernia’s go. It was a right inguinal which is quite common.
“I Was Not Told” That Mesh Would Be Used
The worker’s compensation insurance sent me to a local general surgeon who determined I had a hernia and I was scheduled for surgery 5 days later. It was not my first hernia on the right side. I had a hernia “stitched” old school style in Tacoma, Washington in 1993 and this is what I expected for my latest hernia repair in Montrose, Colorado. I was not told that my repair would include a mesh product and, even if I had, I do not know if I would have said no or not.
I have talked to many mesh victims that have gone through the same experience. So five days later I had surgery with a Mesh Implant of Prolene Mesh manufactured by Ethicon. I felt great for the first six months. It was then that I started to not feel well, had pains in the surgical area with itching and redness.
I contacted the worker’s compensation insurance to get permission to see the doctor again concerning the increasing problems I was experiencing. It took a couple of months but I finally got to see another doctor as my surgeon would not return my calls. By October of 2007 I was very sick and in quite a bit of pain.
Weight Loss & Chronic Pain
By January of 2008 I had lost 40 lbs and could not eat and could barely walk because of what was being done to me by the mesh. I was able to have the Prolene removed but the new surgeon replaced it with a Small Kugel Oval with Ring to repair the hole left by the removal.
I am in constant pain; my right side is bulged out a few inches and my life as I knew it is over.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you or a loved one been impacted by a mesh implant? Do you have a lawyer or are looking for one? What are your expectations with your lawsuit? Are you expecting a “Large Cash Settlement”?
Well, I would like to discuss this with you, if I could.
The Reality Of Litigation
It is the expectation of anyone that has been implanted with a medical device, whether a pacemaker, hip replacement or a surgical mesh product that that medical device goes bad and it does damage and has to be removed, that you are protected under the law and you should be able to sue the manufacturer for damages and suffering.
Many mesh victims are finding that what is normal with most medical devices is not the rule for a mesh product. All mesh products are made of the same petroleum based chemical whether gynecological or hernia. There are many, many mesh products for all sorts of purposes. It is truly amazing how many products there are that are made of the same material as your garbage can or plastic lawn chair that are being implanted in patients all over the world.
Now imagine that the FDA came out tomorrow and recalled mesh and any products of the same material. Imagine that they had to admit that Hernia and Gynecological Mesh was dangerous for human implant and that victims should seek medical attention now. Whether a mesh recipient was having a problem with their implant or not they would run to their surgeon then to their lawyer. The manufacturers would be bombarded by lawsuits and would probably claim bankruptcy. The Insurance companies would be hit by claims to the point where they may have to do the same.
The FDA would have to explain why it has taken so long to recognize and then to tell the public about the dangers of mesh. I believe it is because of these factors and a few others that the FDA will have to be taken screaming and kicking into Court before a total mesh recall would be published.
But I digress.
Tough Questions Before Filing Suit
You or your loved one has been harmed by mesh. You want to sue. Here are a few things you must consider about your case. Do you have medical documentation by your doctor or surgeon that shows that your mesh did go bad and caused all the problems you are now going through? Would they testify on your behalf that the mesh did all the damage? Do you have the actual mesh saved and frozen or pictures of the mesh accompanied by a pathologist report indicating that it was indeed the mesh that did all of your damage?
How long has it been since your implant and your knowledge of the mesh causing you harm? Do you have any other medical problems that have caused you to have surgeries in the same area as the mesh but not because of the mesh? Are you diabetic? Are you over weight? Are you a smoker? Do you drink? Do you have a record of illegal drug use? Have you been incarcerated?
These are just part of the questions that you need to ask yourself because they are questions that will be asked about the veracity of your case.
If you are looking for a lawyer you may have heard recently the advertisements by lawyer’s saying that there was an $11 million dollar settlement “for a mesh case” and “you too could get a cash settlement.” Although that case was brought by a woman that had horrible damage done to her by a gynecological mesh and repeated removal surgeries, her settlement was not granted because the mesh was found defective. The settlement came from the jury deciding that the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warning to her doctor and made a fraudulent misrepresentation to the mesh victim. That was the cause of her injuries. The case included $7.76 in punitive damages to send Johnson and Johnson a message and to discourage their behavior. This case is under appeal.
And here is where I come to the crux of the mesh problem. The FDA has published very little in the way of alerts about mesh. Yes, it has published two warnings about TVT/Gyno/Vaginal Mesh but it has not issued a recall even though there are thousands of complaints.
All mesh settlements are now being handled through a Court system called an M.D.L. or Multi District Litigation. Instead of a thousand small proceedings over several states concerning one mesh product, one large lawsuit is convened in a district court making it easier for the manufacturer, the courts and the lawyers to sit down and come to a determination.
It is VERY difficult and expensive to get a single case into court much less into the settlement phase. This is why most mesh cases are being handled this way. If you do have a lawyer, he/she may have talked to you about this. Your lawyer will probably never enter that court room. He/she will hand over their cases to a lawyer deemed by the Court as the Plaintiffs Attorney of Representation.
It is then this law firm that will not only represent you but also a thousand or more other victims. Your case will have to be scrutinized to determine if you are a worthy client. Go back to the questions I asked earlier. Those questions are now focused on your case. Not only your viability as a client but whether or not your injuries “fit” the boundaries of the mesh case and effectually within the guidelines needed for the case. If you do not fit their “criteria” or the “parameters” that have been set up by the courts and accepted by the manufacturer, your particular case will be thrown out.
It does not matter that you have been waiting for 6 months or 3 years, your chance at a settlement is now over. If your case is accepted however, you will then be categorized as to the extent of the damage done to you. You will then be paid whatever sum the Court and the Manufacturers have deemed you are worth according to your category.
Congratulations, you now have a settlement!
Subrogation: When Someone Else Owns Your Settlement
But hold on there! Did Medicaid or Medicare pay for your surgeries? You may be the target of subrogation. Subrogation is when your settlement is subject to being used to pay what Medicaid/Medicare paid out for your surgery. What!? But you did not agree to that! Too bad, you do not have a choice in this matter as many settlement “winners” have found out.
I have talked to two mesh victims who did not accept the settlement offered to them but are being sued by the Treasury Department anyway. They want you to pay for your surgery and you have won a “Substantial Monetary Settlement”! It does not matter that you have pain, suffering and have lost your livelihood or your home.
After all of this and you still have money coming let’s hope that the manufacturers do not make a plea thereby delaying a settlement that could take years if ever to be received. In 6 1/2 years I have been turned down or dropped by every major law firm in the U.S. I am now way past the Statute of Limitations for my State. I also have had 2 different meshes which complicate my case considerably and again, no one wants to get involved. I am not alone in this situation as there are literally thousands of mesh victims whether they know it or not that will never get representation, compensation or retribution.
The Lawyers Make More Than We Do
So, Dear Mesh Victim, please, before you put all your hopes and dreams in a somewhat normal life after you have “Won a Substantial Monetary Settlement” realize that the lawyers are making more money collectively than you will possibly get from a lawsuit.
The possibility of you getting enough money to keep you and your family solvent is almost nil. Until the FDA comes out and recalls your mesh or my mesh or ALL Mesh, we as Mesh Victims have little chance of ever getting that “Substantial” settlement.
I will write again at a later date about mesh settlements and will expand the topic to include the lawyers, the courts, the judges and the manufacturers that are involved with the upcoming M.D.L.’s. I will also introduce you to victims that have been to court and will let them tell you how it went for them.
Please make a report to the FDA MAUDE data base if you have not done so.
Best Wishes, Richard M. Howden (aka, All Meshed Up)
Post Script: I do work as a Surveillance Tech still although if I climb ladders for a couple of days I pay for it by being curled up in a ball for a day or two afterwards. But I cannot get SSI because I am too active. I am on Food Stamps and at one point was getting a very small stipend for the disabled and needy. Until a little over a year ago I was living in a converted garage with a wood stove and I hauled water to wash and flush the toilet. I have a Service related disability that gives a little bit of cash monthly. I was nominated for a Purple Heart last year because of injuries in 1976. If I get that I will have full benefits and a pension. But since I was implanted with Mesh my life is no longer what it was. I will not give up the things I love to do until my body will no longer allow me to do them. Like it or not that is my life now. It’s not what I had in mind for being 57 years old.
Richard Howden Radio Interview
Mesh Lawsuit Victor, Christine Scott Establishes ‘Mesh Gone Wrong’ Website
Last month, Christine Scott, 53, and her husband were awarded $5.5 million by a Bakersfield, California jury for the injuries she suffered after being implanted with a synthetic vaginal mesh. The manufacturer, C.R. Bard announced immediately it would sue.
The jury determined the doctor who implanted the mesh should be responsible for 40 percent of the award.
See the background story on MDND here.
Bard’s Avaulta Plus Led To 7 Revision Surgeries
Scott was implanted with transvaginal mesh, the Bard Avaulta Plus, to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence on January 9, 2008. Since then she has endured eight surgeries; she experiences daily pain, mesh erosion in the vagina and rectum, fecal incontinence, nerve damage and depression, among other complications.
A former runner, Scott says her fitness, her health and her marital relations have been ruined by mesh. The television story broadcast by KGET-TV Bakersfield shows how excited Scott was for the case to finally be over, not as much for the verdict, but because she “can finally get the word out.”
A Message For Other Victims
She says the hardest part during the four years it took to go to trial was keeping quiet and watching other women be hurt. Scott was represented by attorney Gene Lorenz of Bakersfield in California state court.
“The absolute worst decision I have ever made was having the transvaginal mesh procedure done for stress urinary incontinence. That decision has left me scarred and dealing with invariable pain for the rest of my life.
“I strongly encourage any woman considering this procedure to fully research every option and give other treatments deep consideration.
“Throughout Mesh Gone Wrong, a plethora of information can be found for anybody looking for a place to start — even my own personal account with transvaginal mesh.
Here is the Mesh Gone Wrong home page
TV story KGET– TV Bakersfield
Trudy Thomas: Suffering In Silence & Financially After Kugel Mesh Settlement
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, August 19, 2012 ~ Trudy Thomas is 53-years-old and the song, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all,” might be her anthem.
Thomas lives in Cascade, Colorado near Colorado Springs and halfway through our profile interview, she had to flee her mountain cabin.
Flames invaded the canyons around her home where she lives alone with her dog, Blackjack. For several days she was on the road, sleeping in her car, at her daughter’s house and out of communication.
She had no idea whether the modest one bedroom wooden mountain cabin she calls home would be there when she returned as the entire Manitou Springs area was wiped out by a fire that started a mile from her home in Waldo Canyon.
Thomas is now back at home which was spared except for the soot damage inside which was cleaned up with the donation of supplies from the Red Cross.
We returned to our earlier conversation about her hernia mesh injury and the settlement offer she has received. If a plaintiff ever was led to believe a settlement would make them whole, Trudy’s story might serve as a wake-up call.
Editors Note* Thomas was represented by two law firms but she produced a certified letter she sent to the attorneys dismissing them from the case. She no longer wants to be represented and has refused the low five-figure settlement.
Trudy’s Kugel Mesh Story
On December 6, 2006, Thomas had Kugel mesh, sold by C.R. Bard, implanted to treat a hernia. The Colorado Springs native had been helping an elderly couple stay out of a nursing home while Thomas was recovering from a bout of cancer of her cervix, stomach and ovaries.
“I had no education after high school and was unable to get Medicare and Medicaid. They just dropped me. I had no idea why. They (the couple) were helping me get back on my feet,” she tells MDND.
Upon moving the man out of a chair, she felt her hernia. She was fitted with the Kugel Mesh Hernia Repair Patch. But almost immediately Thomas could tell the Kugel mesh was not going to be a good fit.
“I couldn’t tolerate the pain. I kept going back in the hospital. It was January 1, it was a holiday. I went into respiratory failure. The tissue surrounding the Kugel mesh had died due to gangrene. I don’t remember much about that time period. I remember screaming in pain,” she says today.
Thomas was in intensive care with a perforated bowel and partial obstruction. Her gallbladder also turned gangrenous she says and had to be removed.
Five surgeries and six weeks in the hospital later, Thomas had the Kugel mesh removed when her surgeon said it was the cause of the infection. The mesh was not saved so she has no idea if the ring broke, the cause of many Kugel mesh complications and the basis for the larger Kugel settlements.
“The surgeon said your body didn’t take to it.”
By then a friend had brought to her attention the Kugel mesh claims being filed across the country. Thomas got on the internet. With a few inquiries, she suddenly found “every attorney wanted to take my case.”
Even without Kugel mesh, Thomas says the Kugel mesh mess continues.
“Since then I’ve had eight bowel obstructions, all of them adhesions which are now strangling my bowel,” she said adding that she has lost over half of her intestines. Thomas says she can never be far from a toilet. Unable to work she has lived on Social Security disability and Medicare and Medicaid. Thomas says she receives about $650 a month in assistance and $150 a month in food stamps, barely enough to keep her in the uninsulated summer cabin or pay for the cost of a space heater in bedroom and gas heater in the living room during the colder months. Not to mention food.
Shortly after the introduction of the Composix Kugel mesh patch in 2002 problems began to emerge. The ring, which was design to spread the large patch once inserted, was breaking, causing complications in users. Initially Davol, the manufacturer and a subsidiary of C.R. Bard, Inc, blamed the doctors for the injuries, but by December 2005, the FDA ordered a recall of the Bard Composix Kugel Mesh Hernia Repair Patch. The recall was updated in March, 2006 and again in January 2007 after the FDA found several fatalities and more than 80 injuries resulted from the Kugel hernia patch.
The first lawsuits were filed in Rhode Island in December 2006.
By July 17, 2008, Thomas joined the Kugel mesh litigation filing her case in Superior Court in Rhode Island, the home state of C.R. Bard. Her complaint requested a trial by Jury.
Kugel Mesh Settlement
On July 6, 2011, C.R. Bard Inc. extended a settlement offer totaling about $184 million to settle 2,600 lawsuits with injuries that ranged from death to intestinal fistulas, sepsis, and bowel perforation, among other complications.
Although the conditions of the Kugel mesh settlement are confidential, online websites host chats among those plaintiffs on the receiving end of the settlement who largely express dissatisfaction.
Originally, many stated they would not sign onto the defective product settlement.
Thomas received a smaller settlement because it was believed her Kugel mesh ring did not break.
Before the settlement was announced, and fearing she would be homeless, Thomas took out a $5,000 lawsuit-related loan to pay some bills and keep the lights on. She says she was told a settlement was forthcoming so she felt she could handle the $400 a month in interest payment.
“I figures if I was getting a settlement in a few months it would be worth the risk. I needed the money really bad and I took a chance believing my attorney on this. I had to do it.”
In March 2010 she got the loan, which after initial fees was only $3,500 in cash. By June of 2012, the loan with interest had swelled to $15,000.
Take the Settlement
“I said right away I’m not taking it. I want to go to trial,” says Thomas today. “They kept leading me on. Now I want out of it because I’m getting cut down on my food stamps and disability until I have proof that I did not accept the money,” she says.
Thomas says her food stamps were reduced to $89 a month and Social Security is now down to $650 every month.
“I have to pay utilities, I’m about to get evicted. I’ll probably have to live in my car. I don’t know.”
In response she sent a notarized and certified letter to all attorneys and law firms involved (there are two) refusing the Kugel Mesh settlement.
Thomas says the law firm calls and writes her constantly to take the settlement. She is also told she cannot file bankruptcy because the loan was an “investment” and cannot be dismissed as other debts are in bankruptcy.
“I’m getting bills by the millions from Medicare they want me to pay back. I’ve had 17 surgeries after Kugel mesh and it’s all Kugel-mesh related. “
Mother Nature Strikes Again
As if the fires were not enough, last month Thomas was once again run out of her home by Mother Nature. Fountain Creek in Cascade began creeping dangerously close to her home and her road was washed out making travel by car impossible. During our conversation she said she might have to put on a backpack and take Blackjack and head for higher ground. Thomas got a 911 warning call to evacuate from the nearby Colorado Springs police department.
“I had no way to get out” Then the electricity went out, which affected the well. I didn’t have any water. I just buckled down and went to bed,” she says adding that her phone got wet and she was out of communication for two weeks.
“I went down to the creek yesterday, furniture is washing down, lumber, it’s bad back there.”
But fortunately her home was spared.
“I’m just mad. I’m on the toilet 24 hr a day. It’s so depressing for me. I hardly have any intestines left and I’m not eating or sleeping properly. I couldn’t possibly work, I wish I could. The lady at Social Security said if I claimed I was suicidal I could get more money. That’s not me I refused that.”
“I just want this to stop and to get my benefits back to where I was. I’m a really energetic person and try to be happy person most of the time but this is taking my integrity, self esteem to where I’m getting low in life. I’ve got so much to offer in this world, I really do and it’s taking everything from me. I’ve been trying to find a church close by, just to be by God. I got into this case by the belief it would not affect my disability. Even if I got $2 million, one surgery would wipe me out.”
Postscript: Thomas supplements her food by eating from her garden and relies on food pantries to supplement her food supply. She is still in a waiting mode and still refusing the Kugel settlement. Thomas says she wishes she had never heard of a settlement. Meanwhile she is feeling well enough and is looking at a part-time job at a nearby school.
“I still feel like I have so much to offer, I just want to get back on my feet. I’m due a good turn,” she says. #
Couple Finds No-Mesh Hernia Repair Doctor In Fresno
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, April 30, 2012 ~ Sue Wilson and Harry Cowan had a dilemma.
The couple from Northern California are friends of mine and Sue even included me in her latest film, Broadcast Blues, about the failures of the FCC to regulate broadcasters. But Harry had developed a hernia and it needed to be addressed. She knew I was working on the mesh issue and understood there had to be an alternative. Looking around for answers all they heard was the pro-mesh point of view.
Mesh-Free Hernia Surgery Exists
But Sue got to researching, as journalists will do, and found Dr. Zafar Parvez, a board certified general surgeon practicing in Fresno, California, who has brought a mesh-free hernia surgery to the U.S. based on the work of Dr. Desarda in India.
Dr. Parvez studied in Karachi, Pakistan and began his medical residency in Cleveland in 1982. Back then, he says general surgeons were trained how to repair a hernia without mesh. Even though he used mesh as it came into vogue, he tells MDND he didn’t trust that the polypropylene would be inert in the body.
“Mesh is a foreign body forever, it has reactions to the surrounding tissue and it incorporate eventually in the tissue, when it is not placed properly it will be a problem, when it goes too close to any nerves it gets incorporated that’s chronic pain that’s the worst that can happen. What important is the placement how and where it’s placed and infection.”
Dr. Parvez says a hernia can be addressed without mesh in most circumstances unless the tissue is too weak to use for repair or if the patient has a disease and doesn’t heal.
Dr. Donald Ostergard, MD, has had a long distinguished career in urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery and is the past president of the American Urogynecologic Society. He (background story here) has long said mesh is not inert – I asked Dr. Parvez whether he agrees.
“Mesh is not inert,” says Dr. Parvez. “In every mesh, no matter what makers say, it has a contraction rate and it can go in any direction even toward the center of the mesh. So it will ball up. This is the whole thing. Once you secure it, it’s not nails in a hardwood floor because the body is moving.”
Dr. Parvez is no stranger to the properties of mesh. While his practice focuses on gastric bypass surgery with only about 15 percent hernia repair, he always wanted to learn more and so he attended a number of training sessions offered by Ethicon. “They give you a free trip to wherever you want to go, Las Vegas, New Orleans and train you on a new mesh product. They put you up and fly you out,” he says.
Component Separation Technique
While a surgery to repair a hernia with mesh can last as little as 45 minutes, Dr. Parvez began studying alternatives.
Component separation technique (CST) surgery can take as long as two hours but with it surgeons can close large defects in the abdominal wall without using synthetic mesh by using the body’s own structures to rebuild the wall.
Component surgery is ideal for abdominal wall hernias, but Dr. Parvez said he would not use it on groin or inguinal hernias.
Fred Amir Finds Alternative Options In Fresno
An inguinal hernia is what brought patient, Fred Amir all the way from San Jose in the San Francisco Bay area to Fresno to meet with Dr. Parvez.
Amir, is a health consultant and author of “Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain: A Nine-Step Recovery Plan.” His company, Health Solutions, consults with individuals and industry about maximizing the body’s ability to heal.
“My personal mission is to empower people with information, especially when comes to their health,” he says, preferring a natural and holistic approach to health.
Amir too was not convinced about the promises of synthetic mesh. On his website, Rapid Recovery.net he outlines his research into alternatives for hernia repair. He found both Stanford and University of California San Francisco used synthetic mesh for hernia repair.
He writes about his research on his website:
“I was a patient with chronic back pain frustrated with the medical system. After some of the treatments offered to me by the medical-industrial-complex made my condition worse, I realized that if I did not do my own research and ask lots of questions, I could get seriously hurt. Sometimes patients are offered treatments simply because of tradition or what the doctor is comfortable with, and sometimes there is a profit motive. For instance, A US government study revealed that back surgery has a 1% success rate, meaning it fails 99% of the time, yet there are 350-thousand spinal fusions are done every year. There is absolutely no evidence it works. With the hernia I knew I had to take my care into my own hands and do my own research The doctors I met seem to me were mesh salesman masquerading as doctors. I knew I needed to avoid mesh because of the possible complications even if the percentage is not that high, why take a chance?”
His research led him to Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck, a German doctor who had treated a number of U.S. athletes. But her no-mesh approach to hernia repair was available only in Germany. He found no doctor in the U.S. who duplicated her work.
His studies took him to Prof. Dr. Mohan Desarda of Pune, India, who taught a no-mesh method of hernia repair. Dr. Desarda claims his technique of mesh-free, tension-free, quick-recovery repair is so easy that a skilled surgeon can do it. Dr. Parvez said he was very impressed, so after some initial consultations, Dr. Parvez said he could replicate the technique.
“Most doctors don’t want to do anything new,” Amir says. “He could have said traditional repair only.”
“When I did research online coming from his patients, HealthGrades.com, and everything pointed to a wonderful person conscious person really cares about is patients; I said to myself, and I said “This is a gem hidden in Fresno.” When Dr. Parvez said he could do the Desarda technique, here was where trust came in; I had no doubt in his judgment.”
How Did The Surgery Go?
On the first day after surgery, Amir said he did not use any pain killers, Tylenol or Advil. It did hurt to get in and out of bed he said. By 48 hours he went shopping with his wife and now 18 months later he says he does 2 miles of sprinting, a high intensity workout program and weights.
“In any system where profit is involved, we need a system that gives patients more options. When it comes to hernia repair I hope it’s not just Dr. Parvez, but that every surgeon will offer as an option to their patients.”
How is Harry doing today? He tells MDND, “Today is 2.5 weeks since my surgery and we just went for a two mile hike. I feel fine and I have no problems or complaints so far. If you remind me I will keep you posted from time to time. Thanks for your help. I really appreciate your leading us in the right direction.”
His wife says the hardest thing is keeping her husband relatively inactive through the recovery process. #
Mesh/Medical Device News Desk- Dr. Ostergard on Degradation, infection and heat effects on polypropylene mesh
Abdominal Wall Reconstruction- Medscape
Repair of Giant Midline Abdominal Wall Hernias:- PubMed
Rapid Recovery website with video of Dr. Desarda
Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck- Hernia repair, Munich
Dr. Desarda’s Hernia Center- doctors around the world
Sheri Ragan Still Suffering From Biologic Hernia Mesh
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, February 3, 2012 ~ Sheri Ragan is playing the waiting game – waiting for a hospital in Ormond Beach, Florida to decide when and if it will take Medicaid so she can have an infected biologic mesh implant removed by the doctor of her choice.
At 42, Ragan still doesn’t know how she ended up with six years of pelvic pain following an inguinal hernia repair, first with synthetic mesh, then biologic mesh made from cadaver skin cells following a hysterectomy she apparently didn’t need.
Here is her story:
“In May of 2006, I had bilateral inguinal hernia repair open technique. The surgical mesh used is a material made by Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson Company, it’s called Prolene Hernia System.
“A month later I was back in to see my surgeon with the same pain I’d felt since the hernia patch was put in. He told me I didn’t have a recurrence and to get my ovaries checked out since the pain was coming from that area.
“I went to my gynecologist and after multiple tests she decided to do a full hysterectomy. The pathology report from my hysterectomy showed nothing. There was no evidence that I should have had a hysterectomy. My pain has not diminished since the hysterectomy.”
Ragan and her doctors thought either the Prolene hernia patch or the hysterectomy would have addressed her pain, but neither did. Her general surgeon in Saginaw, Michigan suggested she give it more time. When that didn’t work, he suggested a “little boost” in the form of some nerve blocks.
“I had two on the genital femoral nerve and one on the ilioinguinal nerve. The first one on the genital femoral nerve worked for almost 2 weeks. The block on the ilioinguinal nerve did not work at all. I got my operative reports it said at the time he put the mesh in he took out my ilioinguinal nerve. I didn’t know that. Imagine getting a nerve block for a nerve I didn’t have, and he had ordered it!”
Pain Like Electric Shocks
Ragan was 36-years-old. She had a new grandson, grown children and pain that emanated from the incision site shooting down the leg which she describes “like electrical shocks”. Most days she was in a chair or in bed, unable to move or work. All of this for a hernia that she had never felt, but was diagnosed when she initially went to her doctor for some hip pain.
“They said the pain was nerve damage from what, they didn’t know. I brought it up to them about the mesh as the source of pain. I asked about the possibility of meshoma (chronic pain from mesh implant) and it balling up at the end. He said it couldn’t be the mesh, it’s effective, it’s hard to believe you are the one person in my career…I’ve never had this happen. When I brought up terms I had learned, that’s when he knew I knew something and he rushed me out of his office.”
Ragan says she kept digging deeper to find out more and her conversations with others told her she was not alone. Another woman in Saginaw had gone to the same doctor for a hernia repair, she also had complications following the synthetic mesh implant and is currently hospitalized with a bowel obstruction surgery. Her nephew had synthetic mesh implanted to treat a hernia and is still suffering complications. Yet another doctor, this one in Ann Arbor said he didn’t think it was the mesh. Sometimes you get chronic pain afterward, she was told. Live with it.
Ragan says she became more convinced that the pain she was experiencing was the same as others she read about who had the same experience following a mesh implant – the same story, the same pain. Once again, she returned to her gynecologist who did the hysterectomy and she called in another doctor to look for symptoms of any mesh complication in the groin area.
“He ended up assisting and taking out a dime piece of mesh that was poking through my peritoneal. When I went back for my six week checkup I asked about removing it all. He said ‘I know how to remove the mesh, am I going to do it? No, because I’m not going to fix someone else’s mistake.’ He wouldn’t tell me what it meant. I was ready to cry and give up,” she says.
Once again not deterred, Ragan had a plan. She would raise the funds she needed to see Dr. Bruce Ramshaw, recommended by hernia mesh injured patient advocate, Bruce Rosenberg. Dr. Ramshaw was in Missouri and charged about $12,000 to remove hernia mesh. Selling her household goods she failed to raise enough for the surgery. So she turned to Plan B – purchasing a vehicle, Ragan went to see a doctor in Dearborn, Michigan who had removed a friend’s synthetic hernia mesh. She drove from Saginaw to Dearborn, had the mesh removed as promised at the Oakwood Healthcare System. But the surgeon there replaced the synthetic mesh with a biologic material called Alloderm, made from harvested cadaver cells.
Walk For Life
Ragan says she was on Cloud Nine for the first time in a long time. The doctor had removed her mesh and took pictures of it. You could clearly see it had balled up and was hard as a rock, she says. For the first time in a long time she was pain-free. Back in Saginaw, she participated in a Relay for Life cancer fundraising walk and enjoyed time with her grandson, Daniel, who she calls the pride and joy in her life.
Then the pain began again.
“It started going downhill and the pain came back slowly. I went back to the Dearborn doctor and he said well, since this one didn’t work out I can’t help you anymore. The day after that, I ended up in the hospital emergency room for a suicide attempt. I took too much medication. I just wanted to go to sleep. I was so devastated. I thought I can’t do this again. There was no indication what was causing the pain and he said I should start back on pain management again.. All I heard was blah, blah, blah, ‘the rest of your life.’ ”
Sick & Alone
By this time, Ragan was alone. Her husband had divorced her. One of her three children was not speaking to her, another was angry because she couldn’t attend her high school graduation. With nothing holding her back, she moved to Holiday, Florida to live with her sister and to move closer to Dr. Ramshaw, who had now moved to Halifax Medical Center in Ormond Beach.
“I was going to get him no matter what it took,” she says. Dr. Ramshaw has Ragan’s medical records and the hospital is now waiting to see if it will take Medicaid, the insurance she has with her supplemental SSI Disability, the disability she’s suffered since her initial prolene mesh repair.
“He tells me it isn’t 100 percent guaranteed and I understand that it will be my last resort. I’m in pain every day. If I walk too much and overdo it, there is a shooting pain inside of my legs, so I try to avoid that. I can’t sit up straight for a long period of time. I live close to a fishing hole and go there and sit back and relax. Other times I sit on the couch and play online or watch TV. There is not much I can do now.”
“I’m very mad, I don’t know who to trust anymore. There is nothing else that’s going to be in my body anymore, that’s for sure. What I don’t understanding is (her first mesh) it’s the same exact mesh used for vaginal prolapse. Why are the FDA warnings not for hernia patients like us? It’s hurting as many hernia patients as women for vaginal prolapse, there is a wider range of people because it effects both men and women.”
*Editors Note* Ms. Ragan had the AlloDerm biologic mesh put in after the Ethicon synthetic mesh was removed. Developed by LifeCell in 1994 to be used in burn care and later in plastic surgery, the human tissue implant comes from donated cadaver skin cells that are harvested and processed to form a skin graft. Biologic mesh was thought to be a safer alternative to those made from polypropylene, a petroleum-based product used in most synthetic mesh.
Problems arose in 2005 when LifeCell Corporation of Branchburg, New Jersey, had a lapse in internal quality processes after questions were raised about the donor documentation received from one tissue recovery organization.
That’s when the company issued a quiet, voluntary recall of its biologic mesh. The FDA notification is here.
Ragan’s Dallas attorney, Bill Curtis, says he has 40 to 50 of these cases and the complications arose when LifeCell’s sales reps promoted the off-label use of AlloDerm for internal use and hernia repair between the years 2002 and 2009.
“It sounds a little better than an artificial graft but if you’re going to stretch the mesh again to repair an overly stretch material, they reherniate and in the worst conditions cause infection,” he tells MDND. Additional surgeries often follow an AlloDerm implant along with abdominal pain, disfigurement, a recurrence of the hernia, abscess, infections which can be life-threatening, swelling, and discomfort.
AlloDerm is no longer recommended for hernia repair. #
Jeff Silverman: Suffering in Silence Over Hernia Mesh Pain
Mesh Medical Device News Desk, November 12, 2011 ~ Silverman is one of many men who finds himself disregarded. Not only do medical doctors not believe his pain following a mesh implant to treat a hernia, but the FDA has omitted men from its two warnings about the serious adverse events that can result from the synthetic implant.
He has taken his frustration to Facebook opening a group “Victims of Hernia/Vaginal Mesh Surgery” (here) .
Here’s what he says:
“I have started this group because of an ongoing medical situation in this country that is causing many people a lot of harm, pain, grief, and a deterioration of the quality of our lives and no one seems to care except a handful of doctors. I’m talking about the damage that is being caused by the mesh products that are being used to “repair” hernias for both men and women, as well as the vaginal mesh and “bladder slings” being used on women. These horrible products are taking otherwise healthy people and, for the lack of a better term, screwing up our lives for the long haul.”
“In October of 2009 I had surgery to repair an inguinal hernia on my right side and I’ve been in constant testicular and leg pain ever since with limited mobility. In fact, I’m in more pain now than before the operation and the doctors involved with my case as well as the hospital are taking no responsibility. I have found thousands of online posts by people from all over the country who are going through the same thing, and getting the same attitude from their own doctors.”
Jeff Silverman, 51, lives in Las Vegas and is currently disabled and unemployed. For 15 years he was a blackjack dealer. He believes that the years he spent, slightly leaning over a table to deal cards and take the money, caused his hernia. He had lived with hernia pain for awhile and called it “an annoyance” but then in June 2009 the pain got worse and so did the hernia.
With no insurance benefits through his work, he signed up with the country to receive medical benefits and went to the public hospital, University Medical Center (UMC), to see whichever doctor happened to be on call.
“I Knew Something Was Wrong”
He ended up with an oncologist who performed his hernia surgery on October 12, 2009. Silverman was told the operation was safe and routine and he’d be up and out in a month or so, no problem. “I’ve had surgery four or five times and I heal quickly with no infections so I knew what to expect. As soon as I opened my eyes I knew there was more post-op pain than I had ever felt. I knew something was wrong,” he said. “It felt like a brick was left inside my gut.”
Silverman says he waited in recovery until he opened his eyes and in 20 minutes he was escorted out of the clinic. A week and a half after the surgery, Silverman says he was still in a lot of pain and returned to the surgical center. Another doctor was on the rotation that day. He told the doctor it felt like the ends of a rubber band when the center is being pulled.
“Nobody got it because none was a hernia specialist,” says Silverman, though he asked to see such a specialist, he says he was denied. Silverman later found he had received the PerFix Plug by C.R. Bard. Though he was healing onthe outside the pain never went away. “It wasn’t just the pain, it’s knowing the feeling of having a foreign object in the body, in the whole midsection,” he says, “with an intense pain on the right side radiating pain into my groin down the right thigh into the abdomen. All points of pain are leading toward the incision,” he says.
UMC’s Substandard Care
A return to the UMC and yet another doctor injected lidocaine to see if there was any nerve damage. The doctor never came back into the room. Instead the nurse came in with a prescription for nerve medication. Furious with the lack of specialist care and a general lack of follow through, Silverman wrote a letter of complaint to the CEO of UMC. In response he received a letter from the public relations department that the doctors overseeing his care were not directly employed by UMC.
Never mind that in 2010, the Las Vegas Sun did a series of investigative reports (here) reports on UMC’s substandard care, including turning away a woman in labor who gave birth to a baby who died soon after being born.
It was now February 2010 and Silverman was sickened, not just with pain, but by the treatment he received. By this time he had seen four doctors in the surgical center and two in the emergency room on two different occasions. There was no follow up by any of them. No news outlet was interested in his story, the hospital did not want to forward his case to a specialist.
The final insult added to his injury – he could not receive narcotics for the pain.
“They refused to admit there is a problem, it’s a huge Catch 22. Everybody was trying to make me think I’m crazy, Silverman says. “The nurse actually said to me ‘you can’t be in that much pain’ when she refused to let me see a hernia specialist.”
For its part, Bard says its PerFix Plug has been used in four million procedures and has a chronic pain complication rate of less than 0.5% (here).
The Difficulty Of Obtaining Narcotic Painkillers
Silverman says to MDND, “Something I want to make absolutely clear because it’s something you brought up several times and has become such a huge issue lately, the subject of narcotic painkillers would not have been anything to even think twice about 20 years ago or even 5 years ago, but because so many people are abusing them now, the rest of us have to pay the price. Most doctors have taken the low road and refuse to prescribe and many people, like me who truly need them are now paying the price for the actions of others.”
Silverman will be 52 next month. He says he can’t go back to dealing cards. He lives with his mother, who is almost blind and his father, a cancer survivor. A sister lives in Florida. “The pain is there all the time, it never goes away. It’s there with every step I take, every movement. I can drive but it hurts. I’m not on disability and there is no workers’ compensation. I would take pain pills if I had them but I take over-the-counter stuff for pain, Tylenol and aspirin.”
He researched a medical malpractice lawsuit, but has been advised that the doctors followed a ‘standard of care’, maybe not a good standard, but one nonetheless. The FDA’s notification about the complications associated with surgical mesh, made from the same polypropylene as his Perfix Plug, only identify problems in women treated with mesh, not men.
A year ago, March, he went online and found hernia specialist and surgeon, Dr. Kevin Petersen, whose clinic, No Insurance Surgery, is in Las Vegas. Dr. Petersen has a particular interest in non-mesh hernia repair and treatment of hernia mesh complications and although he has removed mesh and plugs in many hernia patients, he says some removals are impossible. Dr. Petersen told Silverman he might be able to get the mesh out but there could be too many complications. In the worst case scenario, he could lose a testicle even if the surgery is performed perfectly.
Silverman says, “The Perfix Plug has been linked to nerve entanglement, and is under scrutiny because of reports of many post-operative complications including shrinkage, detachment, and its migration to other parts of the body where it can cause damage to other organs and nerves.
“Needless to say I’m scared to death, and I can’t get the doctors involved to take me seriously.”