Lawsuits being settled in surgical mesh complications
Published Tuesday, January 13, 2015 10:03PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 13, 2015 11:40PM EST
The first Canadian lawsuits are being settled for women who suffer pain and internal damage from plastic mesh implanted following surgery.
Transvaginal mesh is used in some women who have undergone hysterectomies, or who have had procedures done to treat incontinence and organ prolapse after childbirth.
Though the material is safe in most patients, sometimes the plastic can shift or break off inside the patient, causing excruciating pain and piercing organs.
Catherine Buote is among the first 35 Canadian women who will be compensated by the makers of the mesh she had used on her in 2008. She’s had 18 surgeries so far to remove the mesh and repair damage caused by the material.
Still, some of the mesh can’t be removed, and Buote in unable to work.
“I am now on permanent disability for the rest of my life, and I am 31,” she says.
Buote can’t name the company that manufactured her mesh or the amount she’s receiving from her legal settlement. And though she says the compensation will help, it won’t return her life, or the lives of the other women affected by mesh, to normal.
“Our lives have been turned upside-down in a multitude of ways that money can’t fix,” she says.
Trudy Randell, another Canadian woman living with the painful after-effects of a surgery, feels the same way.
After a series of emergency room trips and surgeries between 2008 and 2012, Randall had part of her bladder removed.
“I didn’t know what was happening to my body because it was just changing so badly,” she says.
Lawyers representing these women are considering this first settlement a small victory for the thousands of others affected by similar complications.
“It is a recognition there was some problem with the mesh for these women and the problems they complained of, that for so long doctors said were in their minds, were confirmed that these were real problems,” lawyer Paul Miller said.
Other lawyers say their firms are getting two to three new clients every week to work on similar lawsuits. In Canada, there are approximately 3,000 women suing the companies that make the mesh.
Health Canada first licensed transvaginal mesh implants for sale and use in Canada in 1998 and has issued warnings about the complications that have arisen from defective implants as recently as May 2014.
But compensation or not, Randall is saying what many other women are thinking about having the mesh implanted in the first place.
“I would have never ever did it if I knew there was a possibility of this,” she says. “And I hope no one else will ever get it done.”
With a report from CTV's medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip