Women are vindicated by medical device ban

Limerick solicitor Malanie Power

THE LIMERICK solicitor who is leading the campaign to ban a medical device which she says is causing serious injury and pain to women has welcomed a decision to suspend its use.

Health Minister Simon Harris announced this Tuesday that he has ordered surgeons to stop using trans vaginal mesh for the treatment of female incontinence.

Solicitor Melanie Power told the Limerick Post that the campaign started when women clients came to her with horrendous problems caused by the device cutting into internal organs.

This resulted in the establishment of the Mesh Survivors Ireland group which now has more than 400 members.

“We are absolutely delighted with this news,” said Ms Power, who headed a delegation that met with Minister Harris three weeks ago.

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“This is a suspension but we are certain that when the full facts of the damage that this has done and the pain women have suffered as a result of complications, there will be no choice but to ban it entirely”.

The ban became effective from Tuesday night, with operations to insert fresh devices cancelled from Wednesday. This follows a similar ban in the UK and Northern Ireland which took effect some weeks ago.

The issue was highlighted in the Limerick Post last May when the Dooradoyle based solicitor explained that there is no medical means in Ireland of even examining the plastic mesh device once it is inserted.

“Women were not warned there could be serious side effects. This device needs to be looked at on a special scan which is not available here. It can’t even be seen, only the damage it causes and it can’t be removed by surgery in this country.

“Women have mortgaged their homes to go to the UK to have this device taken out, They’ve become reliant on walking sticks and wheelchairs and have been given no option but to medicate their pain, often with drugs containing opiates.

“One woman who contacted the group said she had planned her suicide until she discovered this could be the reason for the terrible pain she has been suffering for years and which doctors have told her is all in her head”.

Ms Power said the decision is a vindication of “all the women who have suffered terrible pain and injury and all those women who were told there was nothing wrong with them, that it was all in their heads”.
A statement issued on behalf of Minster Harris said: “This announcement follows a review by the Department of Health together with the HSE and the Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA), of the decision by health authorities in England and Northern Ireland to pause the use of mesh in those countries on the recommendation of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review (IMMDS) until a set of conditions to mitigate the risks of injury are met”.
“There is understandable public and patient anxiety about the ongoing safety of mesh devices following the considerable publicity that this issue has received and this has been heightened by recent developments in the NHS. It is important that this be addressed as comprehensively as possible,” the statement concluded.