DENVER (CBS4) – Thousands of lawsuits involving tens of thousands of women claim that transvaginal mesh is to blame for their health problems.
Many of the cases are being grouped together into class action lawsuits. In two cases, plaintiffs have received jury decisions in the millions. But for patients like Rose Lucero, the wheels of justice are turning too slowly.
“The pain is so bad that I sometimes go to sleep crying. The pain is so bad that I stay up until 5 a.m. trying to let the pain just go away,” Lucero told CBS4’s Karen Leigh.
The pain started two years ago. Lucero and her husband Robert blame transvaginal mesh. Rose had it implanted for incontinence in 2008. In 2011 she started feeling pain in her back and it’s progressively gotten worse, spreading down her legs to her feet. Lucero says she can’t even do simple chores around the house or run errands without being in extreme pain.
“I have no life. I can’t do anything without being in pain,” Rose said.
“Robert, tell me what this is has been like … watching your wife go through this?” Leigh asked Robert Lucero.
“You know, it’s been two years I’ve seen her in pain, and it’s just … there’s just times I go into the room and I almost cry because when I see her in pain. It’s really destroyed our lives,” he responded.
Between 2008 and 2011 the Food and Drug Administration got 2,874 complaints just like Rose’s about transvaginal mesh. So far the FDA has issued two warnings about the medical mesh, one in 2008 and a stronger one in 2011. The complaints indicate that the mesh tears into tissue, and can break down in the body causing blood infections that in some cases have been fatal.
The pain and problems associated with transvaginal mesh have led to thousands of lawsuits. In July of last year a Georgia woman was awarded $2 million, and a New Jersey jury awarded another patient $11 million in February. Many of the remaining lawsuits are being grouped together and given class action status.
Rose and Robert Lucero hired a lawyer with the hope of getting enough money to get the mesh removed. The couple currently has no insurance, and so far she hasn’t been able to get the medical treatment she needs.
“I finally went to the emergency room because I can’t take it anymore,” Rose explained.
The emergency room workers told her they couldn’t help her because her situation wasn’t life threatening.
“These are good people. They’ve worked their entire lives, their family is suffering, their marriage is suffering, and no one seems to care,” said the Lucero’s attorney, Ben Yablon.
The Lucero’s lawsuit could take 1 to 5 years to make its way through the courts. In the meantime, the mother and grandmother just wants to get her life back.
“I just want the help that I need, and it’s not there. And I think it’s so unfair,” Rose said.
–Written for cbsdenver.com by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith