Mesh mishap: ‘I feel like they stole my life’

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids woman is speaking out on what she calls the dangers of medical mesh.

Irma Foltz says doctors saved her life after finding mesh residue left over from a prior procedure that was cutting into her leg.

According to Foltz, the life-saving operation was done free of charge. Now, this survivor says she's not only pushing for change, but thanking the doctors at Mercy Health who got it right.

She says it all started with heavy periods that were lasting weeks, so she underwent surgery with a Lansing-area doctor who was trying to fix her menstrual cycle with a partial hysterectomy. During the surgery, Foltz says the doctor used surgical mesh to reinforce her uterus. Five days after the operation, she could barely walk, telling FOX 17 the mesh had moved, cutting her from the inside.

"I felt like I was dying," Foltz said.  Now, she wants her botched surgery to be a lesson for others.

She's not alone, the FDA is seeing a big increase in this kind of 'adverse events' linked to surgical mesh.

"I wish for one day they could walk in my shoes, because it’s not a life I would choose or place on even my worst enemy," Foltz said. "I feel like she [the doctor] stole my life."

After years of not knowing what went wrong, she gained 130 pounds and says she wasn't able to walk.  Now, she's praising two Grand Rapids area doctors who found that mesh and saved her life by performing the surgery free of charge.

"I have been in this hell for almost 10 years and nobody in Lansing, not one doctor, would do anything," Foltz said. "I mean, multiple visits to the hospital and one visit here in Grand Rapids changed my life."

Now, Foltz is helping others, getting the word out about what mesh is and how she says it's ruined her life.

"I just pray through it, the only thing that's getting me through is God," she said.

She started a support group on Facebook called, Meshed in Michigan.  Foltz said she also has plans to team up with state representatives to be a voice for mesh awareness.

Earlier this year the FDA strengthened their rules on the use of mesh after the device was reclassified from moderate to high risk.

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23 comments

  • Janis Urban

    Thank you Erica Francis for your report on Mesh Mishap with our Mesh Sister Irma Foltz. Great job! More stories and awareness needs to be broadcast. 100,000’s+ women worldwide have been permanently injured by Transvaginal Mesh. The risks and complications are serious and for years women were never told. Now Abandoned by most of the Medical Community. No Standard of Care for the Complications of Mesh have ever been establish. But it is consider by Doctor’s “The Gold Standard” for treatment of Pelvic POP/SUI Issues? TVM Mesh was never tested. It was clearance by a 510(k) policy (Loop Hole) that fast tracks a device that is predicated on a similar device and that device was the only one that was ever recalled? The Mesh Injured Women of the World are reaching out to bring awareness about the risks of both TVM and Surgical Mesh for Hernia Repair. We believe it is toxic poison in our bodies. You see the Mesh Injured have been as invisible as the mesh is that was implanted in our bodies. This Mesh Debacle is a story with twists and turns like a suspense novel. Just want your viewers to #LiveLifeNeverMeshedUp Know the Risks! @Mesh Awareness Movement on Facebook. Ask?’s Thanks again

  • Deiana Maddox

    Thank you Erica Francis for your report about one of our Mesh Sister’s. The reality that the mesh injured men and woman live with on a day to day basis is heart wrenching. We are severely debilitated and ill from what the mesh has done to us and no one want’s to take responsibility for what we are going through and what others will go through if medical mesh continues to be used. #meshnomore. Thank again.

  • Noreen Wideman

    Thank you for Erica for telling Irma’s story. Irma’s heartbreaking story is one of hundreds of thousands of similar devastating loss of quality of life, that women with mesh complications have to tell. Women have been blindsided by the devastating life threatening complications of medical mesh implants for stress urinary incontinence and organ prolapse. It appears that because 70% of women appear to have no apparent problems with mesh, the 30 % who have horrific complications seem to be acceptable collateral damage. Chronic foreign body reaction that leads to chronic systemic inflammation is known to cause autoimmune problems. Compounded by the fact that mesh can harbor biofilms and infections that are causing sepsis, women have a chemical shit storm happening in their bodies as the plastic mesh degrades, migrates, fragments, erodes into other organs. We will soon say goodbye to a mesh sister in Canada in the end stages of pancreatic cancer. She was a vibrant woman before mesh complications. Another younger Canadian mesh sister has had a biofilm from her mesh implant spread through her body. She is only 40 yrs young and has been given a 50/50 chance of survival. In the past two weeks we have said farewells to several sisters, in the USA. Once again, a younger woman who in so much pain, with no hope, overdosed on sleeping pills and pain killers. She left behind young children. How many testimonials need to be told before the use of medical mesh is restricted or banned? How many deaths does it take? How many lives destroyed? We mesh injured women will no longer be silent. We know who to blame.. who to hold accountable. We will keep pressing for accountability. The FDA messed with the mothers of the world, failed to demand long term studies, failed to make manufacturers be honest and completely truthful. The FDA even failed to punish companies selling mesh that was not cleared for sale failed to strongly punish manufacturers that used counterfeit resins unapproved for use to make medical implant materials. Women’s lives matter. We are not statistics. Those who poke fun at the transvaginal mesh lawsuit commercials should walk in the shoes of a women with mesh sawing away at her insides. More correctly, they should lay in the bed of a woman with mesh caused nerve damage needing morphine to control the pain, often permanent pain, that is poorly managed if managed at all. These women become dependent on narcotics to survive the day without screaming, or taking their own lives. Dependence is not addiction. Then doctors trying to comply with protocol, try to wean them of pain meds.I have monitored mesh complication support groups for over 5 years. The agony is real. and it could have been avoided. Incontinence won’t kill you. But mesh just might. Want to gamble? Because it is a gamble. There is no patch testing protocol demanded of surgeons to know who will be harmed by mesh or who will be helped. Research is slow. There is a valid theory that certain genetic HLA types will be high risk for the adjuvant activity of polypropylene mesh, just as they are at high risk of having catastrophic reactions to adjuvant sin vaccines. Mesh does not remain inert in a body that is rejecting it. Manufacturers lied when they said the foreign body reaction is transient. i can pull hundreds of pages of peer reviewed research that surgeons should be forced to read instead of getting their mesh education from invested manufacturers. Please consider doing a documentary. Thank you for being brave enough to report the dirty secret about mesh.

    • Irma Foltz

      Noreen such heartfelt words,i would like to speak to you in regard to a documentary that i am looking to film from someone who seems interested in putting this mesh insanity out there. Please pm me on fb or email me . Thank you be blessed

      • Deiana

        All mesh has done for me and thousands of others is giving us a life sentence of pain and illness, there is no quality of life left. Companies need to be held accountable and we need help.

  • Tamsyn Gregory

    Thank you beautiful mesh sister for baring your soul for all to read. You are raising great awareness, and a giant thank you to you Erica for reporting. You probably saved many women from getting this surgery done, and by doing that you’ve saved someones life. 💚

  • Debra

    Thanks Erica Francis your not alone there are thousands of us that have been affected by mesh mine was a transvaginal mesh and it has ruined my life I’m pretty well disabled now due to having a short surgery which was supposed to improve my life by having mesh put into my body but it has debilitated me instead.
    Having to have two revision surgeries to get this mesh out of me the mesh was cutting into my urethra and breaking of inside of me because the mesh was eroding I have had so many complications because of mesh,and I have pain every day and live with pain every day it has effected me in so many negative ways,and unfortunately it will for the rest of my life I’ve had two other surgeries on top of the revisions because of mesh I’m constantly seeing Drs after Drs thank you for trying to get the word out for the thousands of women,and men that have been affected by this product.

  • Beth

    Thank you Irma for sharing your story. You know that you are not alone. So many suffer with mesh complications. All mesh is bad. Hernia mesh is bad
    Slings and Tapes are mesh. There is no new mesh. There are different names, different makers, but it is still mesh.
    Local doctors must wake up and quit saying “it is not the mesh” Quit passing their patients off to other doctors making them spend money on useless tests.
    Mesh is polypropylene. Mesh is NOT inert and Mesh is NOT Gold standard.
    Ladies, if you truly need repairs demand your tissue. It can be done.
    Research and Educate yourselves.
    Mesh will ruin your life.
    Thank you again Irma. So sorry you have had to live with this disaster.
    It’s sad.
    Thank you Erica for doing this story.

  • Shelly

    Thank you for doing this story! There are many of us who are suffering in silence from this poison. We struggle everyday hoping someone will listen hoping a doctor will figure out all the other medical complications that come along with this mesh. Big pharma has been using us as guinea pigs making millions of dollars while we struggle daily to go to work and function trying to pay off our medical bills from the adverse effects of the mesh or hoping to find a doctor who will remove it and not cause more damage to us. Thanks Irma for standing up for being a voice and to fox 17 for listening and for telling her story.

    • Irma Foltz

      The Doctor who removed it was Dr. Jason Bennett and Dr. Theodore aisgerisson. The doctor who implanted me was Dr. Sandra Russell..

  • Lynn

    I wish they would pass this message on to every doctor so they start listening to their patients. The FIA has got to start helping patients not trying to kill us.

    • Lynn

      My comment should be the FDA CRAZY auto correct. The FDA need to help all the women and men suffering because of idiot companies that don’t test their products first. Maybe the should test the crap on their loved ones or even on the big shots.

  • Sarah Walberg

    Thanks to both Irma Foltz and this reporter and news station this! These stories need to be told so that other unsuspecting patients can advocate for themselves and demand that no mesh be used in their repair, whether for hernias, prolapse repairs, or anywhere!

  • Dawn Brown

    Erica Francis,
    Thank you so much for doing this news story. As many of the posts have stated , as well as Irma Foltz, mesh is killing us.
    To have over 130,000 mesh lawsuits going on and this is not plastered all over the news is a travesty.
    I myself was implanted with mesh at 44 years of age. Less than 2 months later my body was rejecting the polypropylene mesh (plastic) my immune system has now been completely destroyed. My liver is attacking itself.
    No Dr. will admit that mesh is causing all kinds of autoimmune disorders along with the horrible debilitating pain.
    This is a holocaust against humanity and needs to be stopped.
    There may be some bodies that are capable of using the mesh without a reaction but if your body does react , it’s not a simple little surgery to remove it, then you are all better. You will probably never be healthy again.
    Thank you for helping to fight our battle.

  • Marie

    Thank you so much Fox 17 for doing a news story of this devastating matter. You would be surprised to know how many other news agencies refuse to participate in getting the word out about what some juries are calling a defective product. God bless this woman. She is not alone.

  • Janet Lynn

    Thanks for covering this story. I wish more media outlets would cover the huge problem of surgical mesh implants, but most stations have advertisers who are manufacturers of mesh (J&J, Boston Scientific, etc.) I was disabled at age 40, when I was a healthy, fit wife and mom of 4 kids. I had a prolapse, and was told my only option was transvaginal mesh. I later found out there were FDA warnings and hundreds of thousands of women suffering. I never would have had the procedure if someone had been honest with me. Now, 6 years later, I have the mesh removed. But it did so much damage, as it often does. I cannot sit, have intimate relations, work, or stand on my feet for more than 30 minutes. This is likely permanent, and it is NOT RARE. We need more publicity on the dangers of surgical mesh so that our children and grandchildren do not suffer. It is too late for most of us.

  • April

    Unfortunately, there are many, many more people, both men and women that have been injured by mesh. I am one of the many. It is sad and sick to think that so many people have no help or support from their ignorant doctors that implant these meshes!

  • irma foltz+

    Thank you Erica Francis, i was so happy with the outcome of this story. I have had a great response from the community. I would be happy to share the progress of a non-profit i will be working with to help those mesh sisters in Michigan get the mesh removed. Will keep you updated. Be Blessed and congrats on 1 year ,your future is bright. Remember my motto “I will not let the opinion of others dictate to me the content of my character. Thanks so much..

  • Nelida Scavo

    Thank you for reporting on a tragedy that so many suffer. The medical device manufactures and the FDA have to be held accountable. We are unfortunately living in a time that greed outweighs the safety of patents. Blessing to all affected and prays for your speedy recovery. Kind regards, Nelida