AN AMBULANCE technician revealed last night how she has been forced to give up her dream job after her life was destroyed by controversial mesh implants.
Mother Debbie McGeachy was once a fit and healthy woman taking part in charity runs and boot camps, but she has now retired through ill health because she was left in constant agony after routine surgery for bladder problems went horribly wrong.
The 46-year-old, from Glasgow, spoke out about her heartbreaking decision to leave her profession as Health Secretary Shona Robison urged all health boards to suspend mesh implant operations until an independent review into their use has published its report. Robison will write to NHS boards after it emerged that some are continuing to perform the procedures despite a call for a moratorium by her predecessor Alex Neil in June last year.
Loading article content
Health boards have ignored the government request to halt mesh procedures until after a safety review, and 166 operations have taken place since last June.
Robison also confirmed that women who have experienced complications as a result of mesh implants will be able to access specialist support through the NHS Inform hotline.
Debbie welcomed Robison’s intervention and also her plans to set up a helpline because she insists victims have felt isolated and ignored.
She fought to get her life back for her teenage children Hollie, 16, and Connor, 14, and partner Gary Morrison, who is a paramedic, after her May 2010 operation caused her permanent damage meaning she may never work again.
She is one of hundreds of women in Scotland left in agony after being given surgical mesh implants to treat incontinence and bladder problems.
Now Debbie has to use a wheelchair to get out of the house and spend time with her family. She has also recently been given a blue disabled badge for her car.
She said: “I have been forced to retire through ill health because I couldn’t cope with the pain during the day. I was having to take morphine and other painkillers during the day to try and cope with the pain.
“By the time I finished at 5pm I couldn’t walk. I fell a few times as well because my legs just buckled under me.
“So I felt I had no choice but to leave. It was heartbreaking. It was my dream career and desperately wanted to become a paramedic but it’s all over now.”
Debbie was incensed after finding out that 166 women had the procedure even after Neil called for a suspension.
She said: “I think Shona Robison is taking a very pro-active approach and hopefully she will be able to convince the health boards to drop it and stop other women ruining their lives.
“I think a helpline for victims is a good idea as well because for years we have had nowhere to turn.”
Debbie’s stress incontinence and overactive bladder was brought on by lifting in her job, and she was treated at the new Victoria hospital in the South Side of Glasgow.
She was told it was a “five star”, 30-minute procedure and that she would be back at work within six weeks.
She claims she was not told about any side effects and thought it was the solution to all her problems, but it has turned out to be a nightmare ordeal and her original symptoms are now worse. Debbie has been left with permanent nerve damage and is taking a cocktail of drugs every day in a desperate bid to manage her pain.
She has also had several operations and botox injected into her bladder, but nothing worked and she had it removed last August.
Now Debbie and 400 other women are suing the health boards and mesh manufacturers.
She said: “I don’t have a life; this is an existence. I haven’t been able to accept that I have been left disabled and that constant pain and incontinence is my life from now on.”
Robison said the Scottish Government would work with patient groups and NHS Inform to develop the practical support service for women experiencing complications or who have concerns regarding their condition.
She said: “I had a very constructive meeting with members of the Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign group.
“As part of our discussions I was pleased to confirm that the Scottish Government will be able to arrange additional support for those affected by the procedure through the NHS Inform hotline.
She said an independent review had been set up and was due to make its recommendations in the spring.