An image of Gill Hedley
Gill Hedley, who experienced severe pain after having rectopexy surgery

A woman from Newcastle is calling on the government to ban mesh implants following her own suffering as a result of the procedure, and is encouraging other women to come forward if they have suffered similar symptoms.

Gill Hedley, from Throckley in Newcastle upon Tyne, had rectopexy surgery in 2013 at Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle after suffering a rectal prolapse.

One year after her surgery, in October 2014, Gill experienced chronic diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weight loss and pain in her lower back, abdomen and pelvis. Doctors investigated for bowel cancer and although the results were clear, her symptoms deteriorated.

Following further tests in January 2016, an embedded stitch around the mesh, thought to be causing her symptoms as a result of internal infection, was removed. However, the mesh remained infected, leading Gill to develop pelvic infection and sepsis. 

Gill had a loop colostomy formed in February 2017 but her symptoms worsened.

Eventually, in July 2017, Gill had surgery to remove the mesh and it was found that some of the mesh was actually stuck in her body. The surgery left micro-holes in her vaginal wall. Her rectum was so damaged that it needed removal and she now has a permanent colostomy.

What is ventral mesh rectopexy?

Ventral mesh rectopexy is an operation in which the rectum (the part of the bowel that is nearest to the anus) is put back into its normal position in the body. It is an operation performed on patients with:

• An external rectal prolapse
• An internal prolapse (aka rectal intussusception)
• A rectocele (bowel bulging into the vagina)
• Symptoms of obstructive defecation

In most cases, the lower part of the bowel (rectum) is released from the back wall of the vagina and mesh is fastened to the front of the rectum using stitches.

Medical negligence experts at Thompsons Solicitors, who work with the growing ‘Sling the Mesh’ campaign, are now investigating a claim on Gill’s behalf.

“I've had to move to a smaller property because I cannot work due to my health problems caused by the mesh,” said Gill. “My mental health is really suffering, too. I’m in financial crisis and have constant physical pain, all of which I’m suffering unnecessarily. I have had to have a further operation as my incision wound became infected and I currently have a wound that has to be packed and dressed every two days.

“I feel really let down by the government who seem to be ignoring this issue: mesh surgery needs to be banned from use in the UK, for good.”

Maya Patel, medical negligence specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Unfortunately my client’s experience is an increasingly common one and we are extremely concerned that there are many more women out there, like Gill, suffering alone. The information given to patients about the complications associated with mesh implants is a postcode lottery in the UK. Too many women are given little or no information.

“We’re urging anyone who has a mesh implant to seek medical guidance if they are experience any of Gill’s symptoms, and also encourage them to speak to an independent solicitor about whether they have a case. Thompsons is working for hundreds of victims across the country suffering from complications and injuries as result of mesh surgery and are committed to supporting anyone affected.”

The information given to patients about the complications associated with mesh implants is a postcode lottery in the UK.

Maya Patel Medical negligence specialist at Thompsons Solicitors