Royston woman left in agony after surgery backs calls for procedure to be suspended

PUBLISHED: 08:32 04 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:34 11 June 2015

Kath Sansom has launched a campaign against a gynaecology operation in which a TVT sling is used. Picture: HELEN DRAKE

Kath Sansom has launched a campaign against a gynaecology operation in which a TVT sling is used. Picture: HELEN DRAKE

Archant

A Royston woman is helping to launch a campaign calling for the suspension of a surgical procedure used to treat incontinence after it caused her agony.

Anne Cook from RoystonAnne Cook from Royston

Three years ago Anne Cook had the TVT mesh operation, in which a mesh tape made of the same plastic used in drinks bottles is put under the urethra to keep it in place.

After six weeks the mesh knits into the live tissue, making it tricky to remove.

The 60-year-old, who had been suffering stress incontinence, said: “It was described as such a simple operation, day surgery with little or no complications, so I went for it.”

But the mesh caused extreme stomach cramps, pain down her legs and constant urinary tract infections.

She said: “It was horrible. I couldn’t stand up straight and was doubled over.

“I am a strong woman but this stopped me in my tracks.”

Anne is not alone – in the USA about 100,000 lawsuits have been filed by women who have suffered permanent disabilities as a result of the operation and 40 per cent of women suffer from erosion of mesh.

Thankfully Anne had her sling mesh removed last year, and had an alternative operation to fix the incontinence problem.

Stress incontinence issues are often caused by natural childbirth, especially if women have had big babies.

The campaign will be launched tomorrow by Cambs Times journalist Kath Sansom who said having the operation herself made her feel like the ‘unwilling victim of a cruel experiment that has gone horribly wrong’.

The mum-of-two said: “My legs and pelvic area feel like they are full of cut glass. I have gone from a super fit 47-year-old to a physical wreck who can just about walk my dog round the park.”

The operation was banned in Scotland last year and Kath, along with 12 other mums, is calling on the procedure to be suspended in England and Wales, too.

In the meantime, she is calling on health experts to fully outline all of the risks to patients, as she too was led to believe it would be a simple and harmless operation.

She said: “I was not told that I may suffer horrible leg and pelvic pains or that I would feel like I was being cut by cheese wire inside my body. I was not told that this was a permanent device.

“I have bad days and good days but if I walk too far – about 15 minutes – sit for too long or try to do too much, the pain kicks in.”

Although many surgeons can put in the mesh, only two surgeons in the UK can take it out.

Kath has been lucky enough to arrange an operation with one of the surgeons later this year, but is concerned for the welfare of those who have not.

Her campaign is also calling on the government to introduce tighter legislation on the introduction of new medical devises.

The TVT mesh is one of many devices – including hip implants, cochlea implants and PIP breast implants – that campaigners say are too easily approved.

In January a team of undercover Oxford scientists took a piece of fruit netting used to package oranges to a regulatory body in Austria to prove how lax the system is, and were on the brink of getting approval for it.

To find out more about the Sling the Mesh campaign, visit Kath’s blog at slingthemesh.wordpress.com.

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