A Wiltshire-based woman, whose life was changed forever by mesh surgery when only a teenager, is sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness of its risks.
Chloe Thurston, now 22, was just 15 when she underwent rectopexy surgery for a suspected internal bowel prolapse. The surgery left her in debilitating pain and eventually stopped her bowel functioning normally. Now Ms Thurston wants everyone to be aware of the damage mesh can cause.
“I started experiencing ovarian problems and really bad period pain at 13,” she said. “After an X-ray revealed I was constipated, I was referred to a surgeon specialising in bowel surgery who diagnosed an internal prolapse.” She was referred from there for a proctogram to test the function of her bowel before eventually having mesh surgery in December 2013.
Ms Thurston, who is originally from Newbury, said: “I was young, I was anxious, I didn’t really understand what this all meant, but I trusted the medical team and assumed that whatever they recommended would make me feel better.”
After the surgery, increasing bleeding and pain left her unable to return to school. But, when she visited a hospital emergency department, her symptoms were dismissed as anxiety-related.
Eventually, aged 16, Ms Thurston was readmitted to hospital as an adult patient for investigative surgery. Initially, she was told she needed further internal prolapse surgery, but two subsequent surgeons disagreed.
“The second surgeon believed further surgery would cause more harm, and the third said I should never have had the surgery in the first place,” she said. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”