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Divorce Another Transvaginal Mesh Side Effect

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North Battleford, SKJoan’s doctor sold her on having an AMS transvaginal mesh implanted at the same time she had a hysterectomy. She didn’t even need the mesh - it was just a precautionary measure so that she wouldn’t have problems with pelvic organ prolapse. “I didn’t even need this mesh and now I am separated because my husband didn’t understand why we weren’t having sex anymore,” says Joan.

Joan, age 43, has been in pain since 2006, soon after getting the mesh inserted. “Neither my husband nor I could understand why I was in so much pain all the time,” says Joan. “On top of that I’ve had constant bladder infections. Because I didn’t want to have sex, my husband assumed that I didn’t love him anymore. He thought I was pretending to be sick.”

And it didn’t help their relationship that Joan’s doctor knew nothing about transvaginal mesh side effects. Despite the fact that Health Canada issued warnings as early as 2010 about complications associated with TVM, Joan’s doctor told her in February of this year that he had just been informed of serious transvaginal mesh side effects. And the FDA first issued a public health notice to both clinicians and TVM patients back in 2008:

“The FDA is issuing this update to inform you that serious complications associated with surgical mesh for transvaginal repair of POP are not rare…Furthermore, it is not clear that transvaginal POP repair with mesh is more effective than traditional non-mesh repair in all patients with POP and it may expose patients to greater risk.”

“I didn’t have a clue about transvaginal mesh complications until a few months ago,” says Joan. “My daughter was watching the CTV [Television Network in Canada] evening news that reported a multimillion-dollar mesh lawsuit. I immediately went online, and talk about an eye-opener! No wonder I was having so many infections and pain.”

Joan first filed a complaint with Health Canada, and then she found an attorney in Ontario who took her case. “My attorney instructed me to go to the hospital where I had the surgery (my doctor moved so I couldn’t get any information from his office), get the name of the mesh manufacturer, reference number and lot number. I found out that the mesh is American Medical Systems and now I am involved in the AMS class-action lawsuit. But I don’t think any amount of money is going to save my marriage.”

Endo, the owner of AMS, has agreed to pay almost $1.3 billion to resolve more than 30,000 claims. The average AMS settlement ranges from $40,000 to $50,000, but women who have undergone revision surgeries can receive up to $400,000. Endo said that it will be settling more claims this year.

Joan is driving to the Saskatoon hospital next Monday where she is scheduled to have a cystoscopy to determine where the mesh is and if indeed it can be removed. “I already had an ultrasound and they couldn’t see it,” Joan adds. “I’m really in limbo - I have no idea what the future holds for me. I have had a constant pain in my lower back and groin that is getting worse. And I don’t know how much longer I can hold my job - I drive a school bus. The trip to Saskatoon takes an hour each way so I am hoping that this procedure next week will give me some answers - I need this mesh taken out but I think it is too late to get my husband back.”

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