To The Hon Greg Hunt MP,
Statement from Michaela Channing, daughter of a crippled mesh injured woman – Friday, 5 May 2017
In 2011 my mother had pelvic prolapse mesh inserted. I was 16 years old. Over the years I’ve watched her deteriorate into someone who now instead of getting up and going for her morning power walk, sits on the edge of her bed and weeps because the thought of knowing she has a whole day to get through in severe pain is too much. To listen to someone you love explain that not only is the mesh that is inserted in her defective, its also incurable, is heart wrenching. Before mesh, my mother was an independent woman who was hard working, social and vivacious. Now she is a woman fighting to get through her days. I wish I could go for long power walks with my mum again, go to cafes and have breakfast or dinners out together, go shopping for hours on end, travel together. All these things have been stolen from me because she can’t put one foot in front of the other without being in severe pain. I’ll leave for work with my mother in agony on the couch and come home 9 hours later with her in the same position I left her in. It causes me great anxiety going to work and socialising, as I know she’s suffering greatly at home. Some days a task as small as running a bath and cleaning herself is too much, often going to bed in the same clothes she woke up in. I’ve watched my mum go in and out of hospital for spinal cord stimulator trials, Lignocane and Ketamine infusions. She’s taken countless combinations of drugs to combat pain, She’s had nerve blocks in her pelvis, none of which has given her any relief. I’ve watched her be dismissed by doctors and have her pain discounted. I’ve sat in specialist’s appointments with mum and have the doctor avoid looking at me and when I try and talk they cut me off and treat me disrespectfully but they are not the ones watching their mother suffer day-in and day out. I’ve watched doctors turn away reading material that could help shed light on mesh implants and trials happening in other countries, things that are working for other mesh injured women, they don’t even want to hear about it.
Watching the suffering of my mother and the treatment of the medical profession towards her causes me great distress. My mother has zero quality of life. My mother has been stolen from me, and her life stolen from her.
Mums are suicidal, bed ridden and bleeding 24/7. Toxic post-pregnancy pelvic mesh surgery is leaving women with plastic eroding in the vagina and permanent nerve pain. But despite a current Federal Senate Inquiry into the debilitating effects of pelvic mesh implants, these dangerous surgeries on women’s bodies are still happening right now.
I am one of thousands of women who has been permanently damaged by a pelvic mesh device that was meant to treat prolapse and stress incontinence, but instead made our lives a living hell. The pain is excruciating, crippling – it’s stolen our ability to work, to be active mothers, and to function.
Regulators failed us miserably. Pelvic mesh implants were introduced over a decade ago in Australia without any clinical evidence of safety or efficacy.
In December 2016, bipartisan support established a Federal Senate Inquiry into the effects of pelvic mesh devices, taking submissions until May 31. But why the hell are these devices still being put into women’s bodies in the meantime, before the inquiry hands down it’s report on the urgent risks?
Over 600 women have joined the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group, a community I started in 2014 after my botched surgery. This issue is global – in the UK and US thousands of women have launched legal action against government and manufacturers that permit these devices.
Health Minister Greg Hunt, I am suffering permanent damage and have listened to many women whose lives are ruined, it is very distressing that these women cannot be the mothers or the wives they once were and I do not want to see one more woman put at risk. There is no other way to prevent this than by implementing an immediate suspension.
Due to the significant and debilitating complications, it is now up to the Department of Health to protect all women from any further potential risks of this operation.
In 2016 Australia’s peak health regulator for medical devices, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, placed on its website a list of at least 30 known complications following pelvic mesh surgery, after TGA executives met with myself, the founder of The Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group, and other support group members.
The complications include punctures of vessels, nerves, structures or organs including the bladder, urethra or bowel; foreign body response including erosion of mesh into the vagina, bladder or bowel; chronic infections; acute or chronic pain; pain during intercourse; temporary or permanent inability to void via the lower urinary tract; bleeding; chronic pain in the groin, thigh, leg or abdomen; atypical vaginal discharge; exposed mesh may cause pain to the patient’s partner during intercourse and abscess.
Journalist Joanne McCarthy has been reporting in the Newcastle Herald since August 2014 and those articles have led to information in the public realm about how the TGA and FDA cleared these devices, the Australian connections, the HCCC investigations in NSW, the group of doctors who’ve supported these meshes, and the other doctors – albeit less than a handful – who’ve sounded the alarm for more than a decade.
The Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group jumped from 39 members in early 2015 to more than 700 after The Project aired a recent episode which highlighted the little known reality that when a transvaginal mesh implant goes wrong, it can go badly wrong, with life-changing complications for the women affected. It has taken the recent media activity on the topic for some women to recognise the symptoms in themselves. Complications can occur quite some time after implanting, and only partial removal options are offered to women. In America alone more than 125,000 women have initiated legal action against mesh manufacturers after they were implanted with transvaginal mesh (surgery through the vagina rather than the abdomen) after post-childbirth complications.Hunt, I am suffering permanent damage from a transvaginal mesh device and I have listened to many women whose lives are ruined, it is very distressing that these women cannot be the Mothers or the wives they once were and I do not want to see one more woman put at risk. There is no other way to prevent this than by suspending mesh immediately.
Please sing and share my petition.