Life Video

By Charlotte Nisbet

A teacher who claimed she was unable to sit down for TWO MONTHS after “botched vaginal mesh surgery” has paid £13,000 to have it removed.

Ceri Baker, 43, underwent surgery to have a vaginal mesh inserted after battling incontinence after the birth of her three daughters.

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But after undergoing the 45-minute surgery back in March 2017, Ceri claims she was plagued with agonising rectal pain that was ruining her life.

Ceri reached breaking point in January this year [2019] and decided to launch her own YouTube channel to raise awareness to help other women.

After being allegedly told that there was a one to two year waiting list for removal of the vaginal mesh, Ceri took matters into her own hands – and thanks to her supportive family – she paid £13,000 three weeks ago [March 19] to have it removed.

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Ceri says her surgeons told her the vaginal mesh had embedded itself into her vaginal wall and won’t yet know the long term damage to her organs until she has recovered.

The teacher, from Dartmoor, Devon, hopes the implants will be band worldwide after stating that thousands of women have been plagued by crippling pain after surgery.

Ceri, who is now taking legal action against Torbay and South Devon Trust through Hudgell Solicitors, said: “I couldn’t sit down for two months at the beginning of this year.

“The severe vaginal pain left me unable to have intercourse with my husband Pete, 43, and I was constantly uncomfortable.

“This procedure was sold to me by the NHS as a small, minimally invasive procedure to relieve the stress urinary incontinence which I had developed since having my three children.

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“It was something I did because I was leaking daily and it was annoying and embarrassing, especially when it came to running, carrying shopping and dancing on a night out.

“I was so bad I stopped having fun, but it caused no pain at all and I could in fact lead a perfectly ‘normal’ life, so long as I planned ahead.

“My surgeon said to me ‘this operation changes women’s lives’, and it did, dramatically for the worse. The nerve pain was so severe that I needed to take strong nerve blocking medication to function in any normal capacity.

“I was back and forth to my GP and the surgeon, and had steroid injections, one under general anaesthesia. It never got any better.

“Then, in January of this year I suffered a huge nerve reaction after a bike ride.

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“Since then I haven’t walked for more than 30 minutes as I’m still recovering from having the mesh removed.

“The removal surgery revealed that the mesh was attached to the urethra and obturator nerve and the pain would  only have worsened if left in place.

“I feel like it was completely botched vaginal mesh surgery from the start.

“The videos are meant to be natural but real, with a bit of humour to them to tackle this huge scandal.

“I wear a vagina fascinator known as a ‘vaginator’ in the videos and the horrendous mesh across it simply to make it visual, as this is a life-changing injury for thousands of women which is not immediately visible.”

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Ceri has received messages of thanks and support from women across the world as a result of her video blogging, many saying they had considered having the mesh implant, but have now decided against it.

She added: “My main sadness as a mother is that I am losing precious time with my children again that I can never get back or ever be compensated for.

“Since becoming unmanageably unwell with my mesh injury I have joined many support groups online and seen that thousands of women are campaigning from all over the world for their voices to be heard and for vaginal mesh to be banned.

“The current lifting of the ban by the recent NICE guidelines is devastating for all mesh injured women and for future generations of women. They are clearly not hearing the reality of trying to live with mesh injury.

“Although my injury is significant and life-changing, I feel I have got off lightly. Many women are fully housebound and have lost everything.

“The NHS still isn’t responding quickly to the plight of these desperately ill women or coming forward to find them and give them a clear plan of intervention with real care and time plans for removal, and further corrective surgery.

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“I had to spend £13,000 to have my mesh removed but if I didn’t have the support of my family, I would have got a credit card to foot the bill, I couldn’t allow the mesh to poison my body any longer.

“I will now recover into the ‘new me’ – whatever that may be. I just don’t know, I am heading into the unknown and hoping that I can rebuild now that the toxic and debilitating mesh is out of me. It would be great to be the person I was years ago, who loved fun and activities like cycling and dancing.”

The mesh implants are designed to be permanent and during the first weeks after surgery become embedded in the surrounding tissue to provide better pelvic support.

This – according to previous reports – means surgeons and doctors have to weigh up the risk of damage to nerves and nearby organs, including the bladder and bowel, before agreeing to their removal.

Ceri says removal was the only hope for her to envisage returning to ‘any form of normality’, but had to fund it herself.

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She added: “The NHS waiting time for referral, scans and surgery was looking likely to be over a year away, which is quite frankly a disgrace given the damage they have done to me.

“I paid for privately in order to save myself. If I waited a year it is very likely I would have been unable to work or lead anywhere near a normal life. I was already struggling to do so and having to spend many days lying on the sofa working from home, as I couldn’t sit on a chair for more than 20 minutes comfortably.

“Now post removal I am unable to do anything at all physically and we have had to cancel yet another family holiday. I will need three to six months off work to recover and have been told it will be up to two years for full nerve and muscle recovery.”

Ceri is currently taking legal action and is being represented by medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors with regards to the treatment she received and the impact the vaginal mesh implant has had on her life.

Solicitor, Josie Robinson, says: “Consent and full understanding of the risks is imperative in every surgical procedure, and it is certainly Ceri’s case, and that of other women we are currently representing, that this consent and understanding was not in place with regard to vaginal mesh implants.

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“Given that the medical devices safety review is still to be concluded it is both surprising and concerning to see guidance being issued to suggest it is safe to use again. Ceri’s story is similar to so many other women in that her health suffered extremely after having a mesh implant fitted.

“We feel people should be held accountable for this suffering, particularly in cases where other options for treatment could and should have been explored.”

A Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment about specific cases.

“We are committed to listening to our patients and the public to ensure that we’re continually providing the highest quality of care possible.

“Due to concerns of the general public regarding this type of surgery, as well as some updated NICE recommendations, we voluntarily stopped using the meshes in October 2017.

“Before we removed the meshes as a surgical option for our patients, we had been significantly reducing the number of procedures being carried out using these meshes – well before the NICE recommendations were made.

“As a Trust, we have decided to stop using the meshes indefinitely and we are currently offering our patients the more traditional surgery options. However, we are closely monitoring the evidence and development of alternatives so that we can ensure that we are at the forefront of any future surgical developments.”

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