Grieving family demand answers over great-grandmother's mesh death
A grieving son whose mother was the first person in Scotland to have mesh implant surgery listed as an underlying cause of death is demanding answers from the regulator who approved the product.
Great-grandmother Eileen Baxter died in August from multiple organ failure after being admitted to hospital with internal bleeding, sickness and diarrhoea a week earlier.
The 75-year-old previously underwent sacrocolopexy mesh repair – an implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse.
Her son Mark Baxter, from Loanhead in Midlothian, and his sister Audrey have met health secretary Jeane Freeman to discuss their mother’s death and the implications of the wider use of mesh.
This led to the Scottish Government announcing a halt in the use of transvaginal mesh, with only a limited number of operations to be considered for women already on the waiting list.
Dr Catherine Calderwood, the chief medical officer for Scotland, has again written to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to seek assurances the safety of mesh products has been properly tested.
An investigation into Eileen Baxter’s death is being carried out by associate medical and nurse directors at NHS Lothian. As part of this process, the Baxter family agreed a list of questions which the health board say they will endeavour to answer.
Mark Baxter said: “The one question I did ask, which I thought was relevant, is there’s a bacteria that comes from this mesh. The surgeon has said that there was a lot of bacteria in my mum’s body, so I’m specifically looking for them to tell me where this bacteria came from.
“I know that the bacteria that comes from the mesh can break down the immune system and then the body can’t cope with any antibiotics. So I’m still waiting on answers to the questions I have surrounding my mother’s death.”
Baxter welcomed the decision taken by the Scottish Government to pursue the MHRA for answers regarding the thoroughness of the regulation of the mesh devices on the back of an article published in the British Medical Journal in October.
He said: “The way things are going it looks like the pharmaceutical companies never provided enough information.
“There’s been a lack of transparency and communication between the companies that make the mesh, the NHS and the governments.”
In the letter to the MHRA, Calderwood said: “I remain concerned about a number of issues, in particular in relation to mesh implants, where I do not yet feel the MHRA has satisfactorily evidenced the safety of these products.”