A Loanhead woman who underwent controversial mesh implant surgery is believed to be the first in Scotland to have the procedure listed as an underlying cause of death.
Eileen Baxter (75) passed away on August 27 after being admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) the previous week with internal bleeding, sickness and diarrhoea.
The mother-of-two, who is also a great-grandmother, has multiple organ failure listed as directly leading to her death, with sacrocolopexy mesh repair – an implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse – listed as an underlying cause of death.
On Wednesday Mrs Baxter’s son Mark, 52, said he was given the number for the legal department of the RIE by staff after he asked for a copy of his mother’s death certificate.
He said: “I’ve told them I’m going to take things as far as I can. They said they were very surprised where the tear in the bowel was. I mentioned my mother’s mesh implant to the doctor, but we never got a straight answer.
“I’m really angry that my mother is not still here and I’m really annoyed she went through all of this. They didn’t bother about her. They didn’t seem to care about her.
“She was feeling unwell in July and was taken to the hospital by ambulance and they basically told her it was a ‘pain thing’ and they advised her to speak to a councillor to get advice on how to manage pain and they sent her away.
“I thought ‘they must be joking, my mum’s not well’.
“I would like to legally pursue this, but I don’t know if we can get legal aid. We’re so annoyed and my poor dad Chic is lost. He’s completely devastated because they were so close. They did everything together.”
More than 20,000 women in Scotland have had the implants over the past 20 years, but some have suffered painful and debilitating complications. The Scottish Government recommended suspension of mesh implants in 2014 while an independent review was carried out, but since then around 400 procedures have been carried out.
Mrs Baxter underwent mesh surgery five years ago. Her death certificate lists this as an antecedent cause of death that caused chronic pelvic inflammation and possible sepsis, leading to anterior rectal perforation and finally the multiple organ failure that ultimately resulted in her death.
Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who has campaigned vigorously on behalf of the Scottish Mesh Survivors group, called on health secretary Jeane Freeman to launch an investigation into this specific case to “ensure no further harm” is done to women across the country.
He said: “The news a repair to a mesh implant carried out by NHS Scotland was a contributing factor in the death of Eileen Baxter will deeply distress not only her family, but the many hundreds of women in Scotland who underwent this procedure. Mesh implants should be consigned to the history books and those manufacturers who potentially broke the law should be prosecuted.”