Living among the Port Pirie population are nearly a dozen women who have been made victim to the under researched and overlooked pelvic mesh surgery.
The surgery is offered to women who suffer from urinary incontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse which is often a natural cause of child birth, but the mesh can have adverse effects.
The complications include erosion and the mesh poking through the vaginal wall into internal tissue which can cause vaginal scarring, fistula formation, painful sex, and pelvic, back and leg pains.
A survey completed by the Health Issues Centre in 2017 revealed through the 2,410 Australian women they surveyed that 59 per cent of these women returned that the surgery did not help solve the initial problem and 41 per cent of women felt that they were not properly informed prior to the surgery.
With the problems affecting more women due to a lack of proper and informed consent, a senate inquiry has been completed on the plastic implant and on March 28, Pelvic Mesh Support Groups across Australia were informed of the outcomes and for local advocate Kim Blieschke, it is not everything they were hoping for.
“The findings were what we were looking for but probably not exactly what we were looking for. There are recommendations that recommends a mesh registry so that any implants go into a registry so that you can follow up women who have these implants.”
“There was also a recommendation of a mandate to report any adverse events because there is no mandate for that at the moment, so a lot of the complications are going unreported. There was also a recommendation that mesh should only be used as a last resort. That other alternatives should be offered to women before mesh surgery.”
Yet a flaw pointed out to the list of recommendations, is not only the wording of them, the fact that they are not strong enough or wanting to mandate a change in treatment, but also they are simply just recommendations, it does not mean anything will change.
For Kim, this is disappointing.
“Who will actually enforce them”, she asked.
“Given that there is a lot of problems for women in the country who are offered this as a quick fix surgery with no follow up. While the recommendations are great, we are not sure what the follow up is.”
There was a lot of things overlooked in the report, and Kim believes that mesh should be suspended, a registry should be formed, informed consent needs to be made a duty of care and both financial and mental support should be given.
Yet this is so far fetched for something which is only a Senate Report so now women across Australia are now pushing for a Royal Commission into the use of pelvic mesh.
But for the interim, thousands of women are sitting in limbo as they do not know what is next for them.
“There definitely needs to be a mandatory reporting and that needs to be enforced. There needs to be proper informed consent for women because that is still not happening, women are still being implanted with mesh having no idea what the complications are.”
“The financial help whether it be a disability support pension, or some sort of financial recompense needs to happen for them but at this point in time we really don’t know what is going to happen from here.”
The surgery is still performed in Port Pirie and in many other regional hospitals, and Kim has been lobbying and providing women state wide information on what can actually happen if the mesh is implanted or if there are complications.
She knows there is a long journey ahead for the groups Australia wide who are advocating for the mesh to be suspended and doesn’t want to see anymore women come victim to the implants.
“Any woman that is suffering from pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence to research and get all of your options before you even consider surgery.”
“Unfortunately mesh has numerous complications and they are quite devastating and I don’t want one more woman to have to endure what thousands of women in Australia have been through.”
If you would like to help the fight against pelvic mesh, get in contact with the SA Pelvic Mesh support group.