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

Posted at 10:49 PM, Apr 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-24 22:49:54-04

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.