"Herring's doctor had written to Ethicon [the manufacturer], prior to the lawsuit complaining about these sutures," said Jones. "We currently have additional plaintiffs calling and plan to file several more lawsuits in the near future. We know there are many people who are unaware that these sutures have caused pain and additional surgeries."
It took Perlene Herring more than two agonizing years and three surgeries to discover that Panacryl sutures were allegedly to blame for an incision that never healed -- and worse.
Herring, age 46, had surgery for a hysterectomy in January, 2002. In March 2004, after three additional surgeries, she was finally on the mend. "My doctor said that I would never have healed in a thousand years without having these Panacryl sutures removed," said Herring.
After her hysterectomy, Herring spent five days in hospital and was sent home to recover. "About three days later I started swelling real bad and the incision started draining," she said. "I didn't know what was going on. I was in a lot of pain and had a fever." Her husband drove her back to ER where it was determined that she had an infection from surgery.
"My incision was leaking so bad that I had to put towels on my stomach and had to replace them on the way to the hospital," said Herring. "They kept me overnight and told me to keep my follow-up appointment with my primary doctor.
"When I went to my doctor he pushed hard on my stomach to release more fluid. My incision had opened so he took those stitches out and put paper strips across the incision. He told me to keep the wound clean and gave me a package of dressings. But they ran out and I had to buy more. This went on for a long time.
In October 2002 I had to go back for another surgery and scar tissue was removed -- they thought that was the problem. But it wasn't because I still didn't heal.
"I told my doctor that something was coming out of my incision that looked like little worms and that's when he realized that I needed to have yet another surgery. At first he looked at me mighty strange -- but then he figured out it was the sutures: the internal sutures from my hysterectomy were infected and they never dissolved.
In December 2003 they got those sutures out. A few months later the incision finally closed and I haven't had problems since -- no drainage, everything is fine. At the last surgery my doctor told me that the sutures were Panacryl.
So why did he use Panacryl in the first place? He didn't know at the time. I don't know exactly when he found out about Panacryl but he told me that there had been some problems with this product.
I was cleaning up my filing case in July 2006 and I came across a letter that my doctor had written for me to get disability. That is when I saw reference to the Panacryl sutures. I decided to go on the Internet and see if there was anything untoward about this product. That is when I talked with lawyers John Toma and Greg Jones. They felt that I had a case against Ethicon, the makers of Panacryl.
I lost my job and my health due to Panacryl sutures. I have had to deal with depression and anxiety attacks for more than five years, not to mention how awful it was with my stomach draining. I feel that my whole life has fallen apart. My husband abandoned me when I needed him the most. I ended up living with my brother and his family for seven months. This caused problems with his family so I moved to Charlotte with my daughter for a while -- I had no money, no nothing. My family had to buy my medicine for quite some time until they got me on the patient assistance program. Even then assistance would not pay for the surgical pads, bandages, gauze and other items I needed.
I finally got onto disability but no amount of money can compensate for these years of agony. And no amount of money will get my life back. It is the principle behind this lawsuit because Ethicon knew they had a bad product. If they had any ethics, I would never have had to go through this. And I want to tell anyone who has had Panacryl sutures to see your doctor immediately -- you too could be suffering from a surgery and not know; you could suffer from these sutures even two or three years after your surgery," said Herring.
"In some states there may be time restraints -- different statues that can cut off your rights," says Greg Jones. "If you haven't filed in a certain time period your claim could be forever barred, no matter how injured you are. Your best bet is to file now rather than later."