Rosalie and Nancy: Two women left with life-long pain following TVT mesh procedures

Two of our clients, who have been left with debilitating life-long pain and unable to have sex with their partners, have settled their medical negligence claims against hospitals that failed to advise them of the risks associated with TVT mesh.

We are currently dealing with more than 50 live cases relating to the controversial TVT mesh device.

Rosalie Newton and Nancy Ellison* say that had they been properly advised of the risks associated with the procedure – which were well-documented at the time – and shown alternative available options, they would not have consented to the surgery.

We are continuing to fight for dozens of women left with life-changing complications by the net-like implant, which acts like a hammock to support the urethra.

Figures suggest there were 127,000 mesh implants between April 2008 and March 2017, but campaigners believe the actual number is higher.

A note from our Head of Medical Negligence

Robert Rose says: “For years, women have been given the option of surgical mesh insertion as a solution for prolapse and incontinence. As a result, many women have found themselves in excruciating pain from mesh that has eroded, contracted and protruded into other areas of the body.

“Hospital trusts owe a duty of care to ensure they obtain patients’ fully-informed consent to any surgical procedure and advise of the likely risks that could arise as a result. However, in our experience, many gynaecologists have proceeded to surgery prematurely before exhausting all behavioural and medical options.

“There is a real lack of knowledge when it comes to mesh and those affected are made to feel like the pain they are going through and the symptoms they are experiencing are not bad – there is almost a disbelief from medical experts. We have worked on many cases where doctors have deemed to know what is best for women instead of empowering them to make their own choices and decisions.”

Rosalie’s story

Mother-of-six Rosalie started suffering from stress incontinence following the birth of her fourth child in 1997. By 2010, her symptoms had worsened, and she was referred to the gynaecology clinic at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where, a year later at the age of 38, she had surgery to insert the mesh.

Straight after the procedure, she was in horrendous pain and, in 2015, a piece of blood-stained fabric mesh “fell out” while having a bath. In the following years, she attended multiple appointments and assessments due to vaginal soreness, dribbling incontinence, and chronic pain that left her unable to sit or have sexual intercourse. Struggling to cope with symptoms, Rosalie started self-harming.

As well as suffering sharp, stabbing and burning vaginal pain, she requires catheterisation and has been fitted with a permanent neuromodulator to restore normal bladder function.

Our medical negligence claim against the Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, revealed that medics failed to advise Rosalie of the risks of and alternatives to the surgery. Had this been done, she would have opted for urethral bulking injections, which would have led to a resolution of her urinary stress incontinence and avoided all subsequent damage.

Rosalie, of County Durham, said: “I remember being so fed up, I just wanted to be put back to normal so I could move on with my life. The only option I was given was to stay as I was and continue wearing pads or to have an operation to put a tape in. My choices were presented as either undergo this operation or remain incontinent.

“Straight after the surgery I was in horrendous pain and remember being on the floor crying. I still find things very difficult and my mental health has severely deteriorated as a result of having the TVT procedure.

“My husband and I have not been able to have intercourse since 2011, which makes me very angry and upset. He was diagnosed with a rare heart condition around a year before I underwent the procedure and has been very ill himself but ended up being my carer.

“I feel very upset that I can’t live a normal life. The ongoing pain and urinary issues I suffer impact all aspects of my daily life. I am lucky my family have been so supportive. I never thought I would have been left in pain for so many years.”

Michelle Harper, who led the claim, says: “It was the hospital’s duty to advise Rosalie of any significant or well-established risks associated with the procedure and alternatives to any proposed treatment. Had she been properly informed, she would not have consented to the operation.”

Nancy’s story

Mother-of-two Nancy first started leaking urine when coughing in 2010. As time went on, her symptoms deteriorated and she was having more accidents, which stopped her from going out. She initially visited her GP in April 2012 and was referred to a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, whom she saw on multiple occasions over the next few months, the last time being in February 2013.

Despite being told that a clinical review was necessary to assess her symptoms and chasing on multiple occasions, Nancy received no further communication from the gynaecology department until she was seen again in January 2016. Later that spring, she was offered TVT mesh and had surgery at Singleton Hospital in October 2017, aged 50.

The now-57-year-old was seen post-operatively for the first time in June 2018 after she noticed the stitches were unravelling. An examination confirmed the mesh was protruding through her vagina, and the gynaecologist said the procedure had gone “very wrong”. Multiple reviews and infections later, Nancy had the exposed mesh removed in September 2018.

Our medical negligence claim against the Swansea Bay University Health Board, which runs the hospitals, found that Nancy was lost to follow-up and there was a failure to trial medication prior to being offered surgery. It also revealed she was not appropriately consulted on the material risks of the procedure, which was performed in the absence of informed consent.

Nancy, of Swansea, said: “I remember asking the gynaecologist the success rate of TVT mesh. He said he had done this for 12 years and only 12 people had minor problems. He didn’t tell me of any downsides and did not say what could go wrong. Had I known there were complications or other, less invasive options, I would have tried them before going straight to an operation.

“I tried to have intercourse with my husband around six weeks after the surgery, but he could feel the mesh inside me and said it felt like a cheese grater to him. He started to urinate blood and caught an infection. We no longer have sex because it’s too painful and embarrassing.

“My incontinence is so bad that I have to wear pads all day and all night. All I do is leak. I can be sat down and the pad will be filling up without me realising. I am often dehydrated as I leak so much fluid. I have tried drinking more but it makes me leak more, so I stop and end up getting dehydrated and feeling ill – it’s a catch 22 situation.

“Before the incontinence, my social life was active. I would take my grandchildren out, go walking and I loved swimming, but I haven’t been for several years as I have to wear nappies. I haven’t walked my dog since having the mesh inserted because it’s too painful.

“I feel people do not realise what you are going through. People just think I am being grump but they don’t know that I don’t want to move or laugh in case I wet myself. I look back at the things I used to do like taking the grandchildren to school and it feels like somebody else, a different person, did this.”

Maryam Abdullah, who led the claim, added: “Had Nancy undergone further investigations and treatment for her urinary symptoms in 2013, she would not have deteriorated as she did. With this in mind, the TVT mesh surgery is likely to have resolved her stress incontinence symptoms, avoiding the pain she has been left in and the partial removal of the device.”

Contact our team today

We’re helping many women who have been through similar situations with TVT mesh raise awareness and get the compensation they deserve, for the detrimental impacts mesh has had on their lives. If you or a loved one have been through this, and you think you may have a claim, we urge you to get in touch with our team as soon as possible.

*Names changed to protect anonymity