Sadly many victims consider suicide and have suicidal thoughts as a result of severe and debilitating depression. There is a sense that the public relations tide is shifting when it comes to the use of hernia mesh. While many physicians continue to use this mesh in nearly all of their surgeries, some have begun to question the safety of the mesh due to the propensity of the mesh to either become infected or to disintegrate in the body. This can cause painful life-altering complications from those who have had hernia mesh surgery go awry. The effects of this botched surgery can be irreversible and can last a lifetime.

Suicide and hernia mesh

Now, patients who have had botched hernia mesh surgeries are beginning to come forward with their stories. Their personal experiences are sometimes difficult to hear because of the drastic effects that the surgery has had on them. These stories include planned suicides as well as suicidal thoughts. One cannot help but feel a tidal wave of pity for someone who entirely loses the quality of their life while they are still physically alive and relatively young. These stories are uniformly of people who have had their lives changed because of what they were initially told was a routine surgery. Patients have now taken to all sorts of media to warn others of the dangers of hernia mesh.

Suicidal thoughts and depression

Several Canadian women shared their story with CTV News. Their accounts described the physical effects that they suffered from hernia mesh surgery. Francine Wright had an abdominal hernia that was repaired using polypropylene mesh. She was led to believe that the surgery was not anything out of the ordinary and that she would have a full recovery. However, six months after the surgery, she began to experience intense pain. No amount of painkillers was able to relieve her intense pain. She feels extreme discomfort on a daily basis, and many days, she is not even able to get out of bed due to the pain. This discomfort has now persisted for years, and there is little that she can do to get any relief from her ordeal. Wright’s pain is often so extreme that she has even considered suicide, and has often prayed to die.

Wanting to die

Debbie Van Dyk has been living in agony for 12 years after he hernia surgery. She exhibits symptoms of the mesh having disintegrated in her body. She often finds pieces of the plastic mesh protruding through her skin. Van Dyk explains that the pain begins daily as soon as she wakes up in the morning. Her doctor explains that the plastic pieces of mesh that poke through the skin are her body’s attempt to expel the plastic out of her system. Her pain has sent her into a tailspin of depression as she has little quality of life due to the complications from a supposedly minor surgery that she endured a dozen years ago. Van Dyk has even gone so far as to attempt suicide because she cannot handle the constant discomfort.

Tailspin of depression

People often ask why those who have had botched surgery simply do not get the hernia mesh removed and then attempt to repair the hernia. Unfortunately, for nearly all of those patients, this is not a possibility. The mesh becomes entangled with the internal tissue and organs and it is not always easy to extract it. Other times, as what happened to Van Dyk, the mesh disintegrates and it is impossible to remove it all from the body.

No options or means to end her pain

Lynda Plumb also had hernia mesh surgery a dozen years ago and has been experiencing severe complications. She has been told that her life would be in danger if she had surgery to attempt to remove the mesh. This means that she has no options or means to end her pain. Plumb thought of a different way to end her pain with a bottle of pills and alcohol, but changed her mind about ending her life (suicide) at the last minute.

While there is no solution for these patients who have had their lives ruined by hernia mesh, there may be some answers for how this happened to them. Most hernia mesh surgeries do occur without complications. However, when side effects do occur for patients, they are often intense. There has been some research into the causes for these side effects. Researchers have found that one of the primary reasons for the difficulties is a pre-existing allergy on the part of the mesh recipient. When the mesh is inserted, the body will then turn around and attack the mesh. This is what can cause the hernia mesh to disintegrate. When the mesh leaves its place or breaks apart, it has the ability to damage nearby tissue and organs. However, two of the women whose stories have been described above did not have pre-existing allergies.

“Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.” NIMH 

Debilitating side effects and thoughts of suicide

What is certain is that there are thousands of stories that are similar to those told by the women above. While many patients have successful mesh surgeries, when the procedures go wrong, they will generally not be minor complications, but rather will be debilitating side effects that are nearly impossible to alleviate. Like the women above, the hernia mesh can be a ticking time bomb that is implanted in the body because complications can arise years after the mesh was originally implanted. The mesh can shift or disintegrate at any time since it is plastic and is a permanent implant. Thus, patients can never be fully assured that they will not experience side effects in the wake of a hernia mesh surgery so long as the mesh is in place.

The use of hernia mesh in the world is still on the rise even with the increased reports of hernia mesh complications. More patients are choosing to get their hernias treated and mesh surgeries are the fastest way to repair hernias notwithstanding the complications. However, there are some options that are becoming available on the marketplace that can reduce complications such as meshes made out of biological materials that reduce the risk of infections and painful disintegrations,

Several of the women above have pursued the same remedy that many who have suffered from these complications have elected. They have joined consolidated hernia mesh lawsuits against the manufacturers of these hernia mesh implants, alleging that these meshes are defective. However, no amount of money can compensate these patients for the entire loss of their quality of life. Many of these patients not only want to get their stories out to the general public, but they want to hold the companies accountable for the harm that they have suffered.