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Vaginal mesh surgery banned by the NHS, left Willesborough mum bedridden

A bedridden mum from Willesborough is living in constant pain after having controversial surgery that was once banned by the NHS.

Suzanne Baxter spends most of the time confined to her bed, relying on drugs including morphine and anti-depressants to get through each day, as well as a cocktail of antibiotics to ward off infection.

Suzanne Baxter is mostly confined to bed and exists on a cocktail of drugs
Suzanne Baxter is mostly confined to bed and exists on a cocktail of drugs

The 53-year-old had an operation to fit a vaginal mesh implant, which are used to treat complications after childbirth.

Her problems stem from the "fantastically quick" birth of her daughter Emily in 1991, which led to uterine (womb) prolapse and stress incontinence, eventually resulting in the mesh being fitted in 2007 at Benenden Hospital.

Suzanne's husband and partner of 30 years, Michael, is now her carer, as her health spiralled downwards following additional surgery at William Harvey Hospital to "tighten" the mesh.

Now also fitted with a permanent catheter, Suzanne is mostly housebound.

"I feel like a prisoner in my own home, if I do go out in the car with Michael I have to lie down in the seat because of the pain," she said.

Suzanne has taken part in London rallies to highlight the Sling the Mesh campaign
Suzanne has taken part in London rallies to highlight the Sling the Mesh campaign

Once the bubbly mum-of-one enjoyed an active social life with Michael as the pair took frequent trips to Folkestone where they enjoyed watching live comedy.

A shadow of her former self, Suzanne shed several stones in weight as her health deteriorated and her hair fell out in clumps.

The mesh, described as being like "cheesewire" has protruded into her vagina walls causing agony.

She is one of hundreds of women to experience problems following the operation, who are part of a Sling the Mesh campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the potential "life-changing risks" of the surgery.

Suzanne has taken part in Sling the Mesh rallies in London to highlight the campaign and has spoken out to warn other women of the risks involved in the surgery,

"I feel like a prisoner in my own home, if I do go out in the car with Michael I have to lie down in the seat because of the pain..."

The operation was banned by NHS England in 2018, before being re-allowed in April, but only if carried out by highly-qualified surgeons at specialist centres.

Meanwhile a government inquiry is ongoing into the mesh scandal, with a report due in early 2020.

Suzanne's surgery was carried out by the late Mohammed Mossa, whose estate is being sued by Barbara Wise, who had also had mesh fitted at Benenden in 2007.

Her story echoes that of mum-of-three Julie Knight who was operated on by Mr Mossa at Benenden Hospital and said that the surgery had ruined her life.

Suzanne is awaiting an operation by top London surgeon Miss Sohier Elneil, who has worked around the clock to help women affected by the implants.

Michael and Suzanne in happier times
Michael and Suzanne in happier times

She said: "I hope that I can have the operation very soon.

"If it wasn't for the help I get from Sling the Mesh support groups I don't think I would be here.

"You get to be in such a low place that you think what's the point."

A Benenden Hospital spokesman said: “We are not able to discuss individual cases due to patient confidentiality but should any patient be concerned about procedures they have undergone at Benenden Hospital we would encourage them to contact our governance team on 01580 857428.”

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

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