My fate – The PIP implant scare

I recently wrote about my increasing fears that I may have been fitted with the French faulty PIP implants, in the middle of a worldwide health scare (click HERE to read)

At the time of writing the post, I was gearing up to call Transform (one of the

English: Silicone

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UK’s largest cosmetic groups) who have quite openly stated that PIP were their main provider of implants during the period of August 2003 untill September 2005! This discovery had sparked fear within me as I was pretty sure I had my operation back in 2005 or possibly that of early 2006.

Transform also stated that after these dates the PIP implant was still used but in as few as 100 cases out the thousands of operations that had been performed within its private hospitals up and down the country. This meant that if my surgery was actually 2006 rather than 2005, I stood a much grater chance of not being the carrier of two ticking time bombs.

 As I hit the publish button and my post went out into the blogosphere, I took ahold of my iPhone and dialled the free number for Transform. In so many ways I didn’t want to make that call, for weeks I had put it off trying to convince myself that surely, what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me! Yet there was a possibility that I had been given a set of cheaply made “Fake” breast implants that could be leaking what is now said to be industrial filler & a fuel additive into my surrounding lymph nodes and blood stream! Who was I kidding, What I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me! Was I bloody serious? 

I don’t know what I expected from Transform. A polite and helpful representative answered my call, one who had likely spoken to a hundred worried women that day, all asking that same question, “Could you tell me what brand of implant I was given?” all longing for the same answers! The call centre was busy! The overlapping conversations from dozens of representatives could be clearly heard while the sound of ringing phones was present throughout. I wasn’t even sure of my operation date, not even the bloody year it had taken place, though I had estimations it wasn’t much to go on. 

 Maybe I expected to be told there and then, I just wanted it out the sodding way to be honest, nonetheless I wouldn’t hear my fate that day and was politely informed that my details would be passed to the hospital in which surgery was performed. I was told that my medical notes would then be obtained and the answer to my questioned answered. 

I was given a period of up to five days and then somebody would call me back! I thanked the representative before hanging up and proceeding with my day.

In so many ways I felt a sense of utter relieve, for I knew that if

English: Chest X-ray showing bilateral breast ...

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I had been told there and then on this very day, that yes, I was the unlucky receiver of these faulty man-made implants my day, week, month, would be ruined, the shopping and house work would not be done to the highest standards, only I would be sat worried whether these things called implants were still intact, whether or not my health had been compromised and lastly where I would find the thousands of pounds needed to get them removed and replaced (an unlikely prospect as a full-time mother and carer to a child with a disability who was no longer in any type of position to fund such actions)!

Then there was this other part of me, the part that felt angry at not being able to obtained the information. The prospect of a frazzled mind as I battled on jumping every time my phone rang displaying a number I didn’t recognise or worse with the caller id withheld (yes, I never answer withheld calls and was caught of guard by company salesmen and random charities over the coming days.)

Then just two days after having made the call, I returned home from the newsagent’s sat in my living room drinking coffee while catching up with the world’s news as my phone was unknowingly ringing on the charger upstairs in my bedroom. It wasn’t till an hour or so later I discovered Transform had called me, which I felt surprised at (given I’m used to chasing up anything and everything, and guessed I’d be calling them after the dreaded five-day wait). I went through a state of panic… “maybe it was so quick because I’m one of the unlucky ones” this and a host of other thoughts raced through my mind. A representative for Transform left me a message on my voicemail with a number to call her back! I must have stood there in a daze for a whole minute or two, my whole insides felt as if they were churning and twisting and about to drop out, huge butterflies fluttered (no, these were not the type you experience when you find that person you love, but the type you get when your about to hear bad news) There were only two possibilities, ‘I have, or I haven’t got PIP implants’ and the latter was what I so desperately needed to hear. I dialled the number left on my voicemail with a shaky hand, only to incur the dreaded beeping of an engaged tone over and over again. I paced the house consistently hitting the redial button to be greeted with that same beeping sound! Luckily after an hour or so (though it felt like forever) it finally rang!

I gave the lady on the other end of the phone my details and was told to hold for a minute, so she could pull up my notes. As I sat waiting I tortured myself with “what ifs’ as well as trying to assess her tone! Did she sound like a bearer of bad news? Then she spoke…

 “Sorry about that Claire, the system was just a little slow to upload”

 Me: “No problem”

 “OK, we called you today as we have the information you requested on Monday”

 Me: “OK….”

 “The relevant department have checked your notes and I’ve been told to assure you that NO, YOU WERE NOT GIVEN THE PIP IMPLANTS when you had your surgical procedure with us”

 Silence

 Representative: “Clare, are you there?”

 Me: Sniff, sniff, sob, sniff… Yes, thank you that’s a huge relief”

I had built myself up for the worse for so long that my emotions were now in a state of overload, and like a babbling baby I had become a sobbing mess!

 Of course I’ll be requesting access to my medical records to see it in black and white!  It’s not that I don’t believe them (I don’t think they would want to be in the middle of a new scandal, do you) it’s just you have to see these things for yourself, whether the news is good or bad, I guess it just closes a chapter.

 Although I had been given the best outcome possible, knowing it could have been something different altogether, having experienced such dread I still felt such sadness for the thousands of women that would be receiving that same phone call today and sadly not gaining the same outcome. 

Following the media coverage of the health scare, I was

Breast augmentation: Late-generation models of...

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pleased to discover that some progress is finally being made. It has emerged that the Government has released a statement stating that those women who received the faulty implants from the NHS will now be legible to have them removed free on the NHS. However there is no guarantees for the thousands of UK patients who received the PIP implants as patients of private cosmetic groups, though the Government did state that despite not being in a position to order private clinics to carry out the required procedures free of charge, it was expecting them to do so! Yet, I feel that expecting private firms to do the right thing really isn’t going to be enough! This basically means that nothing has changed for these women and those who have PIP implants (ruptured or not) will be faced with the huge cost associated with removal and replacement! what if that just can’t meet such cost? Who knows if their income has changed in the years since their first procedure, maybe like me they are still paying the credit card company that covered it! Big name cosmetic groups have previously stated that to carry out surgical procedures of this kind to such high number, at no cost to patients will simply send them into liquidation, therefore the prospects of them offering the service seems pretty unlikely regardless of the Governments expectations! Where does this leave these women?  No one should have to live their life with a dose of potentially dangerous poisons inside their bodies. Yes, we all know there is risk when opting to have breast implants, but no on ever thought that such revolutions would emerge! Is it fair to be left living waiting for a rupture or a serious complication? Women signing up for such operations had no clue that those very things now sat in their chest would be recalled as faulty dangerous and potentially explosive, did they!

Lastly… A Department of Health statement said: “The NHS will support removal of PIP implants if – informed by an assessment of clinical need, risk or the impact of unresolved concerns – a woman with her doctor decides that it is right to do so.

So… will it fall in the hands of the NHS eventually, or will the private firms be made to pay? Maybe women will be left to sink to the depths of depression, who knows? 

But ask yourself this… “If you brought a product approved and licensed to use here in the UK, yet, a few years later it’s recalled as potentially dangerous, would you want it replaced given you brought it with that healthy stamp of approval?” of course you would! Who wouldn’t? 

This isn’t a debate on why women choose to have breast implants… That has no relevance! It’s about paying for something that has been EU approved and licensed as safe to use for medical procedures, only to discover it something that actually belongs in your mattress… Not your body!

Have I been loaded with the PIP exploding implants?

Today I will make a very important phone call, one that has the potential to either ease my worry or set my already racing mind into a state of over drive! Today I will call Transform, one of the UK’s leading and biggest Cosmetic Surgeon groups within the UK, to ask if I was given PIP (Poly Implant Prothese) breast implants.

Breast implant: saline solution filled breast ...

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As I’m guessing many reading this will already know given the extent of worrisome media coverage, that PIP implants have been linked to a major health scare, leading to the French government advising French nationals to have the implants removed and they will foot the bill! Meanwhile the British MHRA are advising British women with PIP implants (including some 3,000 cancer survivors, who had the implants as part of NHS reconstructive surgery) not to panic as there is no need for the implants removal.

Although there has been no proven link to cancer it has still emerged following figures given by Transform Cosmetic group, that the implants are 7% more likely to rupture than other brands (with the figure already rising). This figure was claimed to be just one percent just a few days back. However forums such as so feminine have had threads forming about the leakage and rupturing of these implants for years, with each thread consisting off sufficient numbers of women, already stating their concerns about the use of PIPs some as early on as 2005.

Reports have unfolded that UK Surgeons in Britain had warned against the use of the PIP implants in 2006 and 2007, but it took regulators a further four years to ban them after the MHRA released a Recall! It is reported that companies such as the Harley medical group were still inserting PIP implants just one month before the official Ban hit.

With each passing day women everywhere have discovered, bit by bit the horrible truth behind the PIP implant scare, including how a 72-year-old French man loaded the implants with an industrial chemical mix instead of medically approved silicone gel. The filler first thought to be a substance used in mattresses is one unknown to the medical world. Worse still in recent hours reports are surfacing that one of the dangerous chemicals used within these fake EU approved implants could in-fact be a fuel additive, alongside substances used to make rubber tubes. Jean-Claude Mas who is now a very wealthy man, a millionaire in fact, as a result of the distribution of implantable ticking time bombs, now will face a string of criminal charges in France one including Manslaughter.

As I’ve sat watching the news unfold around me, I’ve secretly worried that I may have unknowingly agreed to have two of these ticking time bombs inserted in my body! Much has happened between the time of my implant surgery till now! My eldest son has been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, and I’m now a mum of three my life has been on a never-ending spiral of events. Though yes, I really should remember the exact date of implantation, I’m sorry my minds a little foggy! What I do know is that my Surgery was performed with Transform, I had a consultation in the New Cavendish Street medical office, which is located just of Harley Street in London, before my final surgery which was carried out in a transform private hospital in Finchley London by the well-known and trusted surgeon DR Khan! All follow ups were again performed at Transform’s New Cavendish Street London medical office. Racking my brains, I’m pretty certain that surgery took place in the year of 2005/2006 which therefore causes me that bit more concern, here’s why…

On searching the Transform website for any kind of PIP related Press statement, here’s what I uncovered!

23rd December 2011
“If you are a Transform patient and are concerned, please be reassured that our usage of PIP implants since 2005 has been limited to less than 100 patients. We will be writing to those patients in the coming days
This means if you had your procedure after 2005 and do not receive a letter from us, you do not have PIP implants.
If you had your procedure between August 2003 and September 2005 you may have received PIP implants. We reiterate, there is no evidence of a link to cancer, but if you are concerned about potential for rupture, or would like to arrange a review with us, please call us on 08000 214 102. Alternatively you can email us at info@transform-medical.co.uk. If you email us, please also let us know your”

Holy bloody cow! With a dry mouth I suddenly felt myself wanting to vomit. You convince yourself, it can’t be you however the longer I ponder over it the more I fear that actually, yes… Maybe I did have my operation when Transform used PIP implants as their main supplier! This is why I need to call them, instead of being sat worried senseless!
Have I had any symptoms to indicate a rupture? Well, I thought not, that was in-till I read about lumps and shooting pains! Two years ago, I did need to make an appointment with my GP when I feared the worse after discovering a hard lump under my armpit, my GP stated it was enlarged lymph nodes from being ill with a viral, yet it took its time to disappear, and although it’s now gone, I continue to experience shooting pains though the nipple of my left breast and continue to on this day.”

Yesterday I read an article in the Guardian online authored by Sarah Wollaston on the 2nd January 2012, which read…

“Perhaps women damaged by complications from breast implants should take their cases to the General Medical Council and ask them to consider how those surgeons mutilating them to look like grotesque dolls could in any way have put their safety first. It strikes me that this industry both promotes and normalises a dysmorphic and damaging stereotype.”

I was both angered and appalled at such a judgemental view, I feel that such shallow minded reporters who feel that all women have breast enlargement surgery, do so because they have this desire to resemble some out of proportion glamor model getting her breast out for the great British public or purely for the reason of gaining big oversized breast! I don’t feel I need to explain my reasons for my decision to have breast enlargement surgery, however I will state that like millions of other women it wasn’t for the desire to have bigger breast. I did this due to the fact I was left with nothing but skin following pregnancy diabetes, which made my breast balloon from a B to a DD (I gained almost double my body weight and it was awful) as predicted by doctors, the diabetes just went away following the birth of my son and as a result of drastic weight loss I was left with terrible flaps of skin instead of normal breast, as a women in my early twenties with a pervious eating disorder and the tendency to become extremely self-conscious It felt like my best option (Yes, I did try everything else first and this was my last option). Sarah’s comments, like many others, are nothing other than judgemental, stereotyped rubbish that frankly show a great lack of intelligence. We are women who make our own decisions and those decisions should be respected! Yes, we are advised there are certain risk, yet It should be remembered that we were not aware of such dangers, do you think that if we were told our breast would be filled with fuel additives and rubber tube filler we would have still gone ahead with the Operation?

This is not our fault and reports such as this one might like to bear this in mind.
I’ll be sure to update with any news, and continue to hold all those affected in my thoughts… Here’s hoping for a better outcome following the government review!