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‘Action needed’ over problems of mesh surgery

Chloe Thurston
Image caption Chloe Thurston from Wiltshire was aged 15 when she had mesh surgery that left her with problems

A young woman who has suffered health problems since having mesh surgery said “something needs to be done”.

Chloe Thurston from Wiltshire, who had a mesh implant operation aged 15 for an internal prolapse, told the BBC her life was still affected five years on.

Ms Thurston was warned of the risks involved when she underwent the surgery in 2013, but was still dismayed when it went wrong.

It is believed she may be the youngest UK patient to have had the procedure.

A year since a government review of mesh surgery was announced, the woman leading it told the BBC hundreds of women had come forward and she had heard some “horrendous” stories.

‘Couldn’t really walk’

Ms Thurston said she expected the operation to be “a quick fix” of her prolapse, also known as a sagging bowel, but discovered it was “the complete opposite”.

“I got an infection somewhere in my body,” she said.

“When I went home, I was obviously in a lot of pain, so I couldn’t really walk and then I started to have bleeding, discharge and all sorts.”

A year later, even though the prolapse went away, she was still suffering problems.

Her doctor has more recently diagnosed her condition as a bowel dysfunction, and said it was exacerbated by the biological mesh procedure.

Ms Thurston said she was not offered any other less invasive treatment such as physical therapy prior to her surgery.

Five years after her operation, Ms Thurston may have to have the mesh removed.

“Something needs to be done, it’s five years down the line now and this is my life at home that’s getting affected,” she said.

The BBC is not naming the hospital or surgeon involved in Ms Thurston’s case, but they said they were sorry to hear she was unhappy and would welcome the chance to discuss her care.

Image caption Surgical mesh is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse – among a number of other procedures

Baroness Julia Cumberlege, who is leading the government review, said she had been shocked by some of the “horrendous” stories she had heard.

The review was announced in February 2018 by then health secretary Jeremy Hunt, after complaints from many patients about the use of surgical mesh implants used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth.

Baroness Cumberlege said what struck her was how little research had been done in the past about the use of mesh.

“To introduce a new product and not to have done proper research is actually inexcusable,” she said.

“Once a new product is used then we want to be absolutely certain that there is a proper follow up. We want to ensure there is a proper database so that we know which surgeon inserted which particular mesh and into whom.

Baroness Cumberlege said she believed the “most important thing” was to “stop these sort of things happening in the future”.

“We want to ensure the patients who have suffered will have a chance to have their voices heard. We have been appalled by the way they have been dismissed in the past,” she added.

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