Jackie Dee from Banbridge, Northern Ireland

Within two months of getting a mesh implant, Jackie developed psoriasis on her scalp, ears and nails which she had to bathe daily in prescription steroid ointment – 12 years later, within a week of having the mesh removed by a specialist surgeon in Oxford,, the psoriasis cleared.

Jackie Dee.
Jackie Dee.

“Gradually the pain in my legs and groin intensified, my thighs felt like somebody had pulled and punched them. I used to go to spinning classes but had to stop as not only were my legs sore but I couldn’t sit on a bike saddle, I then couldn’t sit comfortably on a chair.

Jackie said: “At the time I never made the connection that the mesh could be making me sick but slowly my health began to go downhill.

“We are ticking time bombs for massive health issues. The mesh can be fine for years and then, as if from nowhere, cause huge health problems.

“X-rays showed nothing was wrong, but I began getting stiff. It became difficult to bend down to put on my shoes, I could no longer kneel.

“Then it progressed so I could no longer run. By 2012 everything got really painful, calf muscles hurt constantly and my feet were like intense toothache. I was sent to a rheumatologist, then a podiatrist who made me special insoles that cost a fortune. They made no difference.

“The pain was dreadful, by this stage I knew something was seriously wrong

“Having a mesh operation was the worst decision of my life. Suffering leaks after babies is one of those health problems you don’t really talk about with friends and family and certainly never at work,” said Jackie, a mother of two teenage sons.

“Like so many mums after childbirth, I would sneeze or laugh and get leaks, but it gradually got worse,” she said.

‘I trusted him completely’

However, her decision to have the operation to fix it was to turn life on its head. It is called a simple fix to an embarrassing women’s problem – incontinence or prolapse – often suffered after childbirth.

It is experienced at some stage of 1 in 3 women’s lives and the problem is on the rise among younger women who haven’t had babies due to an increase in popularity of high-impact exercise classes and long-distance running that put intense pressure on the pelvic floor.

Jackie said: “I went on a firm’s team building day and while we were kayaking had a leaking accident. That made my mind up to go and see my obstetrician, the man who delivered my babies.

“When he offered this quick fix for busy working mums like me, I jumped at it, I trusted him completely.

Quick fix for busy working mums

“It sounded so much better than weeks or months of physiotherapy and better than the old fashioned traditional surgery fix that had a much longer recovery time.

“I was not told of any long term risk, just that this was the gold standard treatment, so I had it done.”

“Then I stumbled on a national newspaper article about Sling The Mesh campaign in England and I made the connection. A woman the same age as me suffering all the same pain as me from a TVT mesh, I couldn’t believe it.

“Years of my life were miserable and my family thought I was being dramatic, finally I realised I was not alone. I was angry. Nobody warned me of these risks.”

Facebook support

Jackie, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2016 – a common health issue subsequently suffered by mesh implanted women – ended up setting up her own Facebook support group called Northern Irish TVT, TVTO, Hernia and Prolapse Mesh Victims – the same surgical mesh material is used for hernia repairs and can cause problems of pain and erosion.

She said: “Some days I feel so powerless, women are coming to my Facebook support page in chronic pain looking for help yet I know their consultant will not refer them to England for mesh removal else it will open the floodgates to many more women.

“There are no removal experts surgeons in Northern Ireland to help these poor women. This operation needs stopping  before hundreds more are maimed.

“Women should be given physiotherapy or traditional surgery fixes, not implanted with plastic mesh – it is Russian Roulette if you suffer.

““There are studies that show the plastic mesh is not inert. It can change inside your body. it can shrink, twist or degrade.. Imagine that inside the most delicate area of your body. No wonder women are in so much pain.”

  • Women from Northern Ireland cannot routinely be referred via NHS for specialist treatment in other parts of UK. It can only be done after they have been to see a consultant and only then on their request can they put a patient’s case to a Multi Disciplinary Team for a decision via Extra Contractual Referral System. In other words – it is very difficult, Jackie said.

9 thoughts on “Jackie Dee from Banbridge, Northern Ireland

  1. hi Jackie I watched ur item on news tonight I had tape done around 7 years ago and have suffered pain in bladder no feeling during sex I am also in a lot of pain in my legs especially over the last two years have been to my doctor who just keeps just giving me different pills I have always be lived my pain in legs and bladder wer conected

  2. Hi Jackie i had tot done in Dublin in 2005. From day 1 I suffered bladder incontinence and back pain. I was told i was just unlucky. I have paid for years of expensive medication which help i also tried physio and in 2010 begged my consultant to take the tape out. I presume he just snipped it as stress incontinence returned but urge to urinate constantly did not ease. I have spent many many nights crying and feeling almost suicidal. Now i have developed chronic thrush externally and internally. I have no sex life and dont know anyone down south who has suffered similarly. I would love to have the damned tape removed but dont know how.

  3. i have same pricedure bout 3 yrs ago now have sjogrens syndrome have been ill since my op who do i contact

  4. Hi my name is pat I had a sling put in nearly three years ago, perforated my bladder putting it in and I have had two operation because the sling had gone through my bladder, interested in your campaign thank you pat

  5. I’ve had mesh used suffer from skin deses always in pain used stick went in for opp to remove it didn’t get it all now I’m house bound in pain all the time depending on my kids depression opp was no sussful waiting on another opp is there any group in Belfast as I’m finding it hard to cope can’t leave home some time s don’t wanna be here

  6. Hi Pat,

    I had a tvt fitted in 2002 which has now eroded into my bladder. I am waiting to have it removed at UCLH but there’s a long waiting list and I’m petrified about the whole thing and what effect it will have on my quality of life. Can you please tell me how you’ve been since the removal and how the operation affected you?
    Thank you

  7. Helen…who are you seeing at UCLH. I am waiting to see Anthony Kupelian to decide what to do. Had a trans labial scan in December and haven’t heard any more.

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