ST. LOUIS - Mandy Jackson, of Wicklow, Ireland, struggled with painful urinary infections for years and sought help from doctor after doctor. None could identify a cause. The infections continued and increased in frequency, leaving her without medication options and, ultimately, hospitalized with liver damage resulting from overuse of the very antibiotics used to treat her.
“Over the last four years, as infections became more frequent, I had to motivate myself to get out of bed in the morning and get into the day,” Mandy said. “I needed to find solutions. I asked my doctor about a report I found on mesh implants and symptoms similar to mine, and I was dismissed.”
In 2002, Mandy had transvaginal tape mesh implanted to address bladder nerve damage following the birth of her first child. She suffered with urinary incontinence for six years prior to the surgery meant to fix the problem. Her doctor’s dismissive attitude signaled it was time to take matters into her own hands. She researched complications from pelvic mesh implants and discovered Dr. Dionysios Veronikis, director of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.
Dr. Veronikis, world renowned for his expertise and skill in complete mesh removal, has helped thousands of women worldwide who suffered complications from pelvic mesh implants.
“Pelvic mesh implants were originally designed to help women with urinary incontinence—those who release urine when they laugh, cough or sneeze—and soon other implants followed for pelvic prolapse,” Dr. Veronikis said. “In the U.S., problems with these implants were discovered as early as 2008, and FDA warnings followed. It was recognized that these implants were not having the intended benefit for women.”
The most frequent complications range from mesh exposure with vaginal bleeding and discharge, urinary retention accompanied by frequent urinary infections to mesh exposure in the urethra and bladder, severe pain during urination, and altered vaginal anatomy with pain during intercourse.
Mandy said her personal relationship with her husband of 27 years was deeply impacted. “I think that’s why a lot of women won’t speak about the mesh. It is embarrassing. It’s not something you want to speak about in a public forum—especially when concerns are ignored by those in the medical field who are supposed to help you.”
When Mandy and her husband Frank spoke with Dr. Veronikis via video chat, those feelings changed. He reviewed her records and told her there was a 50% chance her infections would clear with the mesh removal.
“To me, 50% was better than nothing, and I was going for it,” Mandy said.
She and Frank made the decision to travel to the United States for the surgery regardless of cost. Then COVID hit, international travel was halted and they had to wait more than a year. Once vaccinations were available and flights were again possible, they scheduled surgery and made the long journey.
Mandy arrived in St. Louis and had her initial pre-surgery appointments, followed by a four-hour surgery to remove her mesh implant.
Dr. Veronikis explained that Mandy’s mesh was twisted and tight above the bladder neck, with enough tension to cause a centimeter gap when cut in the middle. “The mesh was in the wrong muscles and under significant tension causing the pressure and pelvic pain.”
Within days of her September 2021 surgery, Mandy’s symptoms were improving, and she was sleeping more soundly. For the first time in years, she was no longer waking overnight due to urine retention caused by the mesh. “I’m recovering really well,” Mandy said. “I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life, and I’m so grateful to Dr. Veronikis and Mercy.”
As Europe opened to tourism in 2022, she and her daughter booked a week in Venice. “My trip speaks for itself,” Mandy said. “Before surgery, I had little energy to do much. Today, we clocked 17,903 steps up and down bridges along the canals. There is no way I could have done that last year.”
In the five months since her surgery, Mandy said she has a new energy, new purpose and a sense of a new beginning.