Thursday, July 14, 2011
7 News Investigations: Secret Sickness
An update tonight about a medical procedure 7 News first reported on last year. A procedure that some say left them in excruciating pain, and several patients we spoke to say it led to a "Secret Sickness." Now, it appears the FDA is listening as well.
WSVN -- Lana Keeton is celebrating today.
A far cry from where she was a year ago when we talked to her.
Lana Keeton, Founder, Truth in Medicine: "People become pelvic cripples. They can't sit, they can't walk, they can't have sex. They live in excruciating pain."
Synthetic surgical mesh looks like window screening.
It's been used for years in surgeries like repairing a hernia and fixing a common gynecological problem called pelvic organ prolapse, which is when a woman's pelvic area collapses.
Lana Keeton: "When you put it in the human body, the tissue scars into the mesh, and it's an inflammatory process. It never stops. It's chronic inflammation inside your body."
And now the FDA is starting to agree.
Lana Keeton: "I constantly talk to people at the FDA, asking them to get this off the market and stop harming people."
When 7 News first reported this story in 2010, the FDA had only released this public health alert about using mesh in women to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
Now, the FDA is admitting there could be more problems with mesh than first thought.
Following a huge spike in reported complications, the FDA has now issued an advisory, saying, "Surgical placement of mesh through the vagina to repair pelvic organ prolapse may expose patients to greater risk than other surgical options."
Lana believes mesh left her debilitated after it was implanted in her bladder to help treat urinary incontinence.
She believes the FDA has not gone far enough.
Lana Keeton: "The warning should be the same for hernia repair with mesh and for bladder suspension with mesh, because the complications are just as serious and happen just as frequently, and there's more people. There's millions of people worldwide that have this in them."
Like Robert Hopkins, who had a hernia surgery that used mesh.
Robert Hopkins: "I was in the emergency room eight times from December 2007 to about June 2008 with pain in my abdomen, pain in my kidneys. I sat on the back patio, and I asked God to let me go. I couldn't take it anymore."
And Lana says as long as there are people suffering like Robert, she will keep up the fight.
Lana Keeton: "It's a big battle, and I'm going to keep going. I'm not stopping."
Belkys Nerey: "The FDA says women who've had the surgery should ask their doctor if mesh was implanted, and if so to get regular check-ups. Another meeting to discuss the safety of mesh is set for September."