Questions over pelvic mesh implants ring louder than ever

The Thalidomide scandal of the 1950s and 60s was a tragedy.

Mothers-to-be took medication on the advice of doctors as they struggled with morning sickness, believing they were doing the right thing for themselves and their precious babies.

The results are well-known and saddening almost beyond belief.

Parents around the world were let down by big pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry. It was, the industries said, a failing never to be repeated.

It seems they were wrong. Lessons from the past have not been learned.

As 700 Australian women take American medical giant Johnson and Johnson to court over their pelvic mesh technology, once hidden horror stories of suffering are emerging.

Women promised a quick and easy fix from prolapse, incontinence and other vaginal damage have struggled through years of pain. 

And much like the Thalidomide disaster, the pelvic mesh horrors know no bounds.

Port Pirie mother of three Kim Blieschke’s story is one shared by far too many women across the globe.

It has been 11 years since her ‘gold-standard’ pelvic mesh surgery left her with life-altering consequences. In spite of the challenges, she bravely tells her story to force change in the medical industry.

But she is not alone in her struggles – thousands of women across the globe are reporting similar issues. And it seems this pain could have been avoided, with questions surrounding the technology ringing louder than ever.

At the class-action, an email sent by a French doctor working for Johnson and Johnson in 2005 was tabled. The doctor, reportedly undertaking a pelvic mesh clinical trial for the manufacturer, allegedly wrote, "I wouldn't like my wife to undergo this procedure." 

A damning assessment made 12 years ago. How many women have suffered unnecessarily at the hands of this technology since then? 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration only updated their list of possible complications from pelvic mesh surgeries in August, 2016. Why did it take them so long? How many thousands of women were truly informed of the true dangers of the operation? How many more once hidden stories of suffering are set to emerge? 

Only time will tell.              – Patrick Martin

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