Funding refused for rape survivor

By Brenda Vowden -
3 comments
Napier woman Jacqui Scott, 61, who has had the surgical mesh Ethicon Gynecare Prolift put into her body. Photo / John Cowpland
Napier woman Jacqui Scott, 61, who has had the surgical mesh Ethicon Gynecare Prolift put into her body. Photo / John Cowpland

Jacqui Scott does not want to die early. But if the 61-year-old doesn't find $200,000 before March 5 next year, there is every possibility she will.

Ms Scott was attacked and raped in 2005, resulting in injuries that had required surgery.

Two surgical mesh devices - one of them a Prolift Total Pelvic Floor Repair System, the biggest mesh ever made - were inserted during a nine-hour operation at Auckland Hospital.

A year later she was still having symptoms - disabling pain in her abdomen, back and legs. "I started to query it because I was in a huge amount of pain.

"I kept going to the hospital and having cystoscopies - I was always told there was nothing wrong and it was just the stress from the attack and all in my head," she said.

She "tried everything" but was unable to obtain a medical explanation or any help in New Zealand. After extensive online research, she found an article about health problems caused by erosion and shrinkage of the implants.

She requested a copy of her medical records and found that both of the mesh implants used in her surgery are on the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) list of medical devices that have caused adverse events. There was also a warning of the many severe complications associated with the implants.

She says she wasn't informed about the potential for complications.

Suffering extreme pain from nerve damage, limited mobility, a compromised immune system, bouts of shingles, teeth and hair loss and severe depression, last year Jacqui paid to see a surgeon in Wellington, who confirmed her fears and told her the pain was real - her mesh had eroded.

Since that visit, she has seen several surgeons who have said the Prolift mesh system, of which she has the only one in the country, can't be removed in New Zealand.

"It was designed to be put in once and never removed. The manufacturers are being sued overseas for defective product, failure to warn and damages."

Jacqui says the mesh is breaking off into slivers and travelling through her abdomen.

"It's not very nice - there's a lot of pain. I could become too sick to have it removed."

There is no one in New Zealand trained to remove the mesh, and ACC has denied her request to fund the operation overseas. "They just dropped me. My case manager told me if they said yes, it will cost the country thousands of dollars because it will open the door to other people. I burst into tears."

Ms Scott has been offered the surgery in March next year by two American doctors and has an appointment to have the mesh removed by Dr Schlomo Raz, a urogynaecologist at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, who is a recognised world-class expert.

Dr Raz has described the growing number of women suffering from mesh implant complications as an "epidemic".

Jacqui doesn't have the funds to travel to the US.

She must raise US$200,000 to cover the surgery and travel expenses.

She has set up an online fundraising site on Givealittle and is hoping for help from a sympathetic public.

"I feel like I'm one of New Zealand's dirty little secrets - I'm being swept under the carpet, tossed aside.

"It's way, way cruel - it's not the rape that's going to kill me, it's the mesh."

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