Editorial – Seeing sense: Medical device ban

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Minister for Health, Simon Harris

THE DECISION this week by Health Minister Simon Harris to listen to the voices of hundreds of women and halt the use of a medical device that is destroying their lives is to be welcomed.

Undoubtedly his judgement in the matter was swayed to a great extent by concerns raised by Dooradoyle solicitor Melanie Power and the women she represents.

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But a tiny, cynical doubt raises the question about how much louder these women might have had to shout had another Limerick woman, Vicky Phelan, not spoken first?

The Ministerial order to suspend the use of trans vaginal mesh to treat incontinence in women follows a similar order a few weeks ago in the UK.

This is only a suspension but there is little doubt in the minds of the members of Mesh Survivors Ireland that it will become an outright ban once the facts and the testimonies come to light.

The pain and suffering that women have endured because these devices are slicing into vital organs and becoming enmeshed with their own body parts is indescribable.

But what is almost worse is the attitude of some members of the medical profession as reported to Ms Power.

Woman say they have been dismissed, sidelined, insulted when they spoke about the effects of this device on their intimate relationships. Some were even told they were suffering psychological problems when they described real pain and suffering.

Which was richly ironic, considering we don’t even have a scan in this country capable of seeing the plastic mesh device once it has been implanted.

Clinicians were willing to believe their own suppositions rather than listen to their patients. Up to the moment the Minister called halt on Tuesday, women were still being scheduled for the procedure to insert this device.

Medical practitioners are still defending its use on the basis that it helps solve incontinence – an embarrassing problem certainly, but much less distressing than a sliced kidney.

The real cost of clinical deafness and blindness has yet to be counted.