Grieving son says use of mesh implants is a ‘form of murder’

Mesh repair was listed  as as an underlying cause of death on Eileen Baxter's death certificate. Picture: contributed
Mesh repair was listed as as an underlying cause of death on Eileen Baxter's death certificate. Picture: contributed
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A grieving son whose mother died after having mesh implant surgery is set to have a meeting with the health secretary.

Mark Baxter, will join Scottish Labour MSP and mesh campaigner Neil Findlay in sitting down with Jeane Freeman to discuss the circumstances surrounding his mother Eileen’s death, on a date of his choice.

The Scotsman revealed last week that Eileen Baxter, 75, who died on 27 August, was believed to be the first person in Scotland to have sacrocolopexy mesh repair – an implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse – listed as an underlying cause of death.

Mr Baxter, from Loanhead, Midlothian, described the decision to treat thousands of women with mesh repair implants as a “form of murder”.

Mrs Baxter, a great-grandmother married to 79-year-old Chic, had multiple organ failure listed as directly leading to her death after being admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh with internal bleeding, sickness and diarrhoea the week before.

Mr Baxter said: “It’s a ticking time bomb – they’ve got to stop this – I’m totally shocked that this has been allowed to go on in Scotland.

“I’ve been looking into mesh and how it affects women and what it does once it’s inside someone and it’s serious stuff.

“If someone had done that to my mum on the street they’d be in jail.

“Basically, I feel the companies should not have been allowed to manufacture mesh for medical use and there’s not been enough research into the product.

“The material that was put into my mum and other woman goes rock solid, it becomes sharp and it starts affecting nerve endings and cuts through the bladder and the bowel.

“It’s like putting razor blades into the patient.

“No wonder my mother was ill and had to be on liquid morphine and everything – she must have been in excruciating pain but too proud to say it.”

Around 1,800 Scottish women a year were given mesh implants for bladder problems and pelvic organ prolapse in the two decades before its use was suspended in 2014.

It is still used in exceptional circumstances but in the six months to March this year there were 33 operations carried out – compared to over 1,100 in a similar period in 2013-14.

Elaine Holmes, from the Scottish Mesh Survivors group said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the global support and messages of condolence, support for the Baxter family and support for the Scottish Mesh Campaign ftom as far as New Zealand and Australia.

“We know the Scottish Government can’t ban mesh as it’s a devolved matter but they can stop it immediately through procurement. Mesh is reserved and it’s only the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency that can ban it.

“Our government through procurement decide what goes on hospital shelves – they can choose to clear the shelves and never use mesh again, but there has to be political will.”

Mr Findlay said the substance had left “thousands of women across the world debilitated”.

He added: “Some have lost organs, many have witnessed the end of their careers, their relationships and some have lost their homes.

“I hope the cabinet secretary for health, Jeane Freeman, will take a much more robust line on this issue than her predecessor and I will be pushing for this when I meet her.”

A spokesman from the Scottish Government said last night: “The Scottish Government does not hold information on individual patients or their treatment.

“But as we made clear last week we will give any information supplied to us on Ms Baxter’s case very careful consideration.”