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Solicitor Melanie Power

Minister and CMO to meet pelvic mesh ban lobbyists

Solicitor Melanie Power is asking that the pelvic mesh be suspended pending a full audit of all women implanted with the device

The Minister for Health and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) are set to meet today (Thursday, May 17) with a medical negligence solicitor, who has been spearheading a national campaign to ban the use of pelvic mesh in Ireland.

Solicitor Melanie Power is asking that this device be suspended pending a full audit of all women implanted with the device. Many of the women are diagnosed with “unexplained pelvic pain” and are told to “manage their pain” with a cocktail of heavy medication including opiates.

The Minister Simon Harris and CMO Dr Tony Holahan will meet with her and three members of the campaign group ‘Mesh Survivors Ireland’ at Leinster House, Dublin. A rally will take place outside Leinster House to give a voice to those suffering.

Many of the women have said they were never told that if they suffer complications with the device, it cannot be fully removed in Ireland as tissues, and organ grow into the device. If they had known there was a risk of chronic pain, organ damage and damage that could not be dealt within the Irish Healthcare system, they would never have gone ahead with the procedure, they said.

They said a recent National Health Service audit of women implanted with the device showed that in the eight years following insertion of the device: 40 per cent needed treatment for trauma and orthopaedics, 50 per cent needed treatment for gynaecological complications and 10 per cent required treatment for pain management. For many women, in the years following the procedure, they were problem free. It can take up to 15 years for the debilitating problems to start.

Health Service Executive figures show that thousands of these devices have been implanted in Irish women. Worryingly, the campaign group claims, the mesh is not detectable by any scanning device currently available in this country.

Women have travelled to the United Kingdom paying privately for a scan which can clearly show the mesh and has confirmed that their pain is real. Power questions why is such a risky permanent device so widely in use when we have no ability to provide adequate after-care for complications. With the current state of services, she said, consultants in Ireland cannot even see the device in most cases until the damage has already been done.

Power commented: “The majority of these devices were not tested on humans before gaining access to the market here. We have allowed 20 years of treating Irish woman as guinea pigs but no one has collected data on the outcome. We need to stop and take stock of the evidence base of what damage this device has caused. Once this information is available, the Government can make an informed decision on whether to ban this device completely from the Irish healthcare setting. The device has to be suspended until this happens. Traditional surgery is an option in the meantime.”

valerie.ryan@imt.ie

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