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Canadian Woman Likens Transvaginal Mesh to a Cheese Grater

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Winnipeg, MBThe story of a Canadian woman who likened her transvaginal mesh to “a cheese grater” has spurred the provincial Minister of Health in Manitoba to push her federal counterpart for action. Christine Asprey, who hails from Winnipeg, is a 49-year-old mother of four who has been in excruciating pain for more than a year.

“It’s like a cheese grater,” Asprey told the Winnipeg Free Press this past January. “Every time I move it’s taking pieces of tissue off.” Believing that removal of the mesh can’t be performed in Manitoba, Asprey is reported to be soon undergoing surgery for her tvt sling in California, at significant expense. Friends and family are reportedly spearheading a fundraising campaign and have launched a foundation in an effort help raise the $30,000 needed for Asprey to have her painful mesh removed.

Asprey is not alone. According to the Winnipeg Free Press (3/14/13), at least 1,000 women in Canada have either launched a transvaginal mesh lawsuit or have expressed interest in joining a class action.

For her part, Minister of Health for the Province of Manitoba Theresa Oswald is set to press her federal counterpart in Ottawa to review the use of transvaginal mesh - and to ensure that doctors and surgeons are properly adhering to a safety notice issued in 2010 by Health Canada with regard to transvaginal mesh complication.

“I would, without a doubt, be wanting to make note of the situation that is happening here in Manitoba to my federal colleague, and to make an inquiry as to whether or not there is further review being undertaken,” Oswald said in comments published in the Free Press, “just given the growing intensity and number of individuals who are experiencing discomfort.”

Federal Health Minister for Canada is Leona Aglukkaq.

Asprey suffers from a common complaint amongst middle-aged women who have borne children - incontinence and a prolapsed bladder, or Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). Weakened abdominal and uterine muscles stemming from childbirth will often allow various organs such as the bladder to sag or prolapse against the uterus. Until recently, the common response has been surgery that involved reinforcing muscle tissue with a patient’s own tissue, known as a transvaginal sling. While effective, the procedure required invasive surgery.

Then along comes transvaginal mesh, which has its roots in hernia surgery. Rather than harvesting a patient’s own tissue and stitching a sling together in a more traditional TVT sling procedure, medical device manufacturers found a way for TVT sling surgery to involve less time and be less invasive with the use of TVT mesh.

Better still, the mesh can be inserted through a tube, then deployed at the appropriate site through the use of miniature cameras in an arthroscopic procedure. The upside was to be a faster recovery and healing.

However, as many plaintiffs connected to a transvaginal mesh lawsuit can attest, the mesh has been known to migrate away from the site, and even protrude into the vagina, causing immense pain and even affecting sexual congress between partners. Some women have found that mesh has become so intertwined with tissue and even organs, that in some cases it cannot be safely removed.

Asprey is no doubt holding hope that her mesh can be successfully removed in California and a more traditional vaginal sling employed - and her immense suffering can finally stop. For its part, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) no longer holds that transvaginal mesh is the safest response to POP, and has recommended against use of TVT mesh as a first response treatment.

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