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Transvaginal Mesh: Do Attorneys Need to Inform Surgeons?

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Toronto, ONIncreasingly, women who have suffered severe complications from transvaginal mesh are coming forward and seeking legal help. Some women say their doctors don't want to deal with it, or worse, they are told that the pain of mesh erosion is all in their minds." Those attitudes belong in 19th century and certainly not today.

Some women aren't getting any help from their doctors—possibly because there isn't an easy fix to mesh erosion or because doctors are reluctant to clean up the mess that a defective device has caused, particularly at the hands of another surgeon. Consequently, these women don't know where to turn, they are afraid, and there is a statute of limitations.

"Silence is a big problem with this transvaginal mesh sling procedure," says attorney Paul Miller. "Women are too afraid to go back to their doctors, after having been told they are fabricating symptoms, and this attitude seems to be pervasive throughout the US and in Canada."

Surgeons may also be wary of getting involved, because the TVM manufacturers, such as C.R.Bard, the maker of Avaulta, and Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Ethicon TVT, will try to blame the doctor who did the surgery, according to Miller. Historically, this has been the case with a number of other medical devices (most recently, Zimmer Holdings blamed surgeons' techniques when its Zimmer Durom Cup hip replacement failed thousands of patients).

What is shocking to TVM victims—besides the horrific complications, of course—is that the manufacturers never tested their mesh and never conducted clinical trials on patients—although some six-month post-surgery follow-ups were done. "Nobody wanted this stuff in them, and nobody knew the consequences," says Miller.

One woman (name withheld) is suffering to the point where she has considered suicide. She recently told her doctor that her bottle of sleeping pills "is looking pretty inviting" and her husband has to take all her meds to work with him, just leaving her enough for the day. "Pain and depression are a lethal combination," she says. The more she learned about transvaginal mesh, the more depressed she became.

She wonders whether these manufacturers studied or even mentioned what happens when migrating fibers of mesh enter your blood stream. "Will I have blood clots in my lungs and brain and heart to look forward to?" she asks. "I read that those side effects have happened to hernia mesh victims with the same kind of mesh that I have, only larger pieces of it are used to correct hernias. It only takes a few tiny pieces of this crap in your bloodstream to potentially kill you. And the leaching chemicals, as they break down, increase the risk of cancer…"

On one positive note, she adds that a friend has been having pelvic problems and her doctor is recommending surgery. "When she asked if they were going to use sutures or mesh he replied that he wouldn't use mesh as there are too many problems with it. Thank God for one informed doctor," she says.

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