Having just returned home to England from a press conference in Paris I could never have imagined I would be in the position I find myself in today. It feels like a whirlwind, a dream come true that turned into a living nightmare and cost me everything I’d ever had and worked my entire life for. Fortunately it didn’t kill me but other ladies have sadly, and unnecessarily, lost their lives to the worlds largest medical negligence case – PIP breast implants for which the scandal broke in 2010; still we must fight for justice.
Here I aim to break down what this case involves, share my personal story and findings and bring to light the possibility of a link between faulty breast implants and mental disabilities in PIP victims children. So I’ll start from the beginning and tell you everything that I know…
Why I Had PIP Breast Implants Aged 18
In 2005 at the ripe age of 18yrs I told my mother I was going to have breast surgery and she almost fainted. Nobody in my family had ever had ‘cosmetic surgery’ and instantly took a dislike to my decision. Back then it was seen as unnecessary, shallow and a very selfish thing to do, as hospitals and surgery was best reserved for treating the sick, injured and dying, not for improving appearance or unnecessarily messing with Mother Nature for vanity.
However, my breasts failed to develop properly, after years of waiting patiently throughout puberty I spoke to my doctor who had tried everything from different forms of the contraceptive pill to stimulate breast tissue to grow to having my nipple pierced for the same reasons. Gaining weight didn’t help, massaging them and even using creams had no effect. I became a young woman with the breasts of a child, a vital part of my femininity that I was born without. And perhaps I would have been okay about the size given that small breasts were hereditary – but I couldn’t see past their asymmetry, the fact that one breast was 2cm higher than the other and made wearing a normal bra impossible. One breast was larger than the other and both nipples pointed outwards east and west. It crippled my confidence and made me feel disfigured, at the age of 18 I was no longer a child but unable to become a woman. I longed to feel ‘normal’.
So I worked three jobs whilst studying to save up the £4,000.00 that I needed to fund my own private surgery on Harley Street in London, the UK’s cosmetic capital that is world renowned and well respected. When I explained the extent of my deformity to my mother she eventually understood my reasons, and whilst she didn’t want me to have the surgery she ensured that I did so safely and at a reputable clinic with a skilled surgeon. And it all went perfectly to plan, it was a dream come true.
Stabbing a silicone breast implant with a biro in the surgeons office I felt giddy with excitement as he gave me his sales pitch into how safe and effective silicone gel implants are and how they hold their shape far better than saline alternatives. Even my Mum couldn’t find fault in it, it was the answer to my prayers, my low self esteem, zero body confidence and insecurities melting away in the blink of an eye as I came out of the operating theatre.
For the first time ever I felt complete, whole and finally myself. Like a woman without hair, a child born without limbs or a man who has lost his genitals – I longed so badly for the part of my body that I was born without. It isn’t to say that I desired large breasts, or that having small breasts isn’t normal, but more that I required surgery to fix the very obvious asymmetry to my natural breasts and being a tall girl my surgeon recommended a size to suit my frame, taking me to a 30DD cup size.
How My New PIP Breast Implants Changed My Life
I could never have imagined the effect breast implants would have on my life and the fame and fortune it would bring me. What I saw as a very personal surgery for myself and by myself, not to please others, soon changed my life forever. Working in an office at the time I was head hunted by MTV to appear as a model in a documentary which left me speechless. Having always been a shy, insecure and reluctant girl burying my nose into books and my education I never expected to be seen as attractive, desirable or even model material.
But my breast implants gave me a confidence I’d never known existed before, I finally felt and looked like a woman and soon had men falling at my feet and asking to take me out. TV cameras, magazines and newspapers knocked day and night on my parents door to take photos of me, put me on TV and interview me about my life as a model – it was the hey day of Jordan and Jodie Marsh and I was a young page 3 model caught in a snowball of fame. I went from geek to chic in the space of a few weeks, switching baggy clothes for designer outfits, wardrobes filled with handbags, jewellery, nail extensions, hair extensions, sunbeds and my adorable pedigree chihuahua. I was quite possibly the personification of a Barbie doll to every extent and it was all because of my new breasts.
Having My First Child Aged 19
At 27 weeks pregnant with my daughter I noticed a hole in my breast from which clear fluid was dripping and went immediately to A&E, in the twenty minutes it took to drive to the hospital I’d soaked through two tops and surgical dressing that I’d used to attempt to stem the leak. Upon examination it was suggested that my breast implants may be leaking, in July 2007 news of the PIP scandal hadn’t broken so they were still presumed as safe. I was advised my breast implants may have to be removed during my pregnancy with a local anaesthetic if the leak couldn’t be stopped.
I had an ultrasound scan on my chest, which was very uncomfortable, as it involved pressing a handpiece into my breasts just like scanning a stomach during pregnancy. It was determined that the clear fluid leaking from my chest was a build up of hardened tissue caused by the body’s natural defence to isolate a foreign object in the body. The week before I was in a mild car crash where I was a passenger in a car hit from behind and the seatbelt pulled on my chest as the car jolted from stationary. The hospital think this added to a build up in pressure, which teamed with my enlarged and swollen breasts during pregnancy led to a split in my skin to let out pressure. I was given antibiotics and avoided catching an infection, assured that my breast implants were fully intact and still safe to stay in.
The week before my 20th birthday I gave birth to my daughter. Having had my PIP breast implants for almost 2yrs at the time I fully expected to be able to breast feed as my surgeon advised it was safe and perfectly possible with breast implants. At the time of my surgery as a carefree 18yr old, breastfeeding wasn’t a major concern of mine as I hadn’t considered having children anytime soon and only found out I was pregnant when I was almost half way through my pregnancy which was a bit of a shock.
The pregnancy itself was pretty much perfect and undetectable. I felt fine, had irregular periods so didn’t realise I was pregnant and being so slim my bump didn’t show until almost the third trimester. I went into premature labour at 39wks and delivered naturally without complications, I had a beautiful healthy daughter weighing 7lbs 0.5oz who I named Millisent.
Breastfeeding was very painful and my breasts were constantly hot, tender and swollen which I was told is normal during pregnancy and birth so didn’t suspect anything. My Mum and the midwives helped me to breastfeed but each and every time I did I found it excruciatingly painful, it made me curl up my toes and dig my fingernails into the palm of my hand as my heart raced and I panted through the pain and hot sweats until she’d finished feeding. Whilst my natural breasts had never been sensitive, nor with my new implants I presumed every woman found breastfeeding just as painful as milk has to be sucked through the nipple ducts so I persevered with it and tried my best to be a sensible grown up rather than a young teenage mother.
The shooting pains I felt in my chest were present every time that I breastfed, feeling like a mechanic had attached metal clamps to my nipples and then sent shocks of electricity into my chest like trying to jump start the flat battery of a car. My nipples cracked oozed and bled during breastfeeding and I used nipple cream to soothe them along with fresh cabbage leaves in my bra – my Mum’s natural remedy – to prevent my bleeding nipples from drying up and stitching to the material inside my bra which tore them open several times and was horrendously painful.
My breasts themselves remained very tender, swollen and hot to the touch which before I was diagnosed with mastitis – described as inflammation of the mammary gland in the breast typically due to bacterial infection via a damaged nipple. It was then that my midwife advised I try expressing my breast milk to pull it through and prevent further blockages whilst alternating between breastfeeding and expressing, laying in a hot bath when possible to soften the milk and ease the pain. I breastfed my daughter for six weeks in total, trying my hardest to give her the best start in life but feeling like a failure when I cried as my breasts blocked up, were hard, hot and bleeding and my milk stopped completely.
The After Effects Of My First Pregnancy
After I stopped breast feeding my breasts remained hot, swollen and tender for some time. My time and attention was solely for my daughter as calls for modelling work came in thick and fast, yet the breasts which made me famous were now loose, stretched and scarred with deep red stretch marks and lines indented into them. I presumed it was from pregnancy and the price you pay for having a baby. I didn’t know this wasn’t normal.
As my breasts shrunk two to three sizes back down to a 30DD the skin was loose, weak and noticeably different, the breast implants were like hard rocks in the bottom of a carrier bag, no longer the full, pert cleavage I originally had after surgery, their defects preventing me from wearing low cut clothing or showing them to my fiance.
Having A Miscarriage Aged 24
I didn’t know I was pregnant, it wasn’t planned and I only found out that I was expecting again when I went to my doctor after passing out and feeling hot and shaky. I thought I must have a bug and would need antibiotics but he asked if I could be pregnant – I’d taken precautions with my fiancé as always. An on the spot pregnancy test and blurred vision confirmed that I was with child and he booked me into the hospital to have a dating scan the following week to establish how far gone I was.
Whilst having another baby wasn’t something we’d considered, the initial shock wore off and we celebrated the prospect of having another baby, carefully figuring out how I could still work, raise two children and afford to feed another mouth. But a few days later I started to bleed at work and had awful stomach pains, I was rushed to the hospital and told that I was having a miscarriage as my HCG hormone levels were dropping. They called it a chemical pregnancy reassuring me that it wasn’t my fault and sometimes it just happens to a baby without reason. If a foetus doesn’t form properly it will never grow as it should and the body will expel it.
So I was sent home to finish bleeding and lose my baby. Nothing could be done, nobody could have known. I lost a little piece of my heart along with the precious soul that I never met that day and it’s something that I will carry with me forever. The midwives assured me that every pregnancy is different and just because I’d had a miscarriage didn’t mean anything was wrong with me, I could still go on to have another healthy happy baby one day if I wanted to.
Looking back now, could the industrial chemicals in my PIP breast implants have already started seeping into my chest and caused me to lose my baby?
Having My Second Child Aged 25
With my implants turning 7yrs old I’d become used to the daily tenderness and discomfort of having ‘old’ fake breasts, or at least that’s what I thought it was. Whilst I was told my implants would last me a lifetime and never need to be changed, my surgeon said women typically choose to have more breast surgery to either alter their size or have an uplift after losing weight and having babies. Being a soon-to-be mother of two at the age of 25 I had been unable to model for the past few years because of the horrendous state of my breasts, so having further expensive breast surgery was the very last thing on my mind.
Even before my second pregnancy I no longer removed my bra because it was far too painful. I couldn’t stand to show my fiancé of 6yrs my breasts because they were disgusting, disfigured, twisted up and entrenched with hollowed out sections that made my once ample cleavage now look like a sucked out crinkly water bottle that had been stamped on and discarded as trash. The weight of them pulled terribly on my chest leaving me short of breath, gasping and flinching whenever anybody hugged me, including my daughter. To flinch and shy away from family contact and cuddles is the opposite of how I’d been raised; it pushed me away from everybody and I felt so isolated suffering in silence with nobody who understood. Because I had never met another woman with breast implants I didn’t know that my symptoms were not normal, I didn’t know something was wrong. I presumed the same severity happened to every woman following breast surgery which is why they voluntarily chose to change their implants when they were no longer happy with them. But after going through all of that I had no intention to have more breast surgery if this would always be the outcome and it costs thousands of pounds at a time just to have nice breasts for a handful of years.
My second pregnancy was the complete opposite to my first, what had been an absolute dream with my daughter was a nightmare with my son and everybody around me put it down to carrying a boy instead of a girl. My eyesight blurred to the point of being illegal for driving and my hair fell out daily by the handful, despite being constantly told that pregnant women glow with health and vitality whilst pregnant. Knowing I was pregnant from conception, as my son was planned, I thoughtfully took Pregnacare pregnancy vitamins recommended by my midwife to give my son the best and strongest start in life, and I led a healthy, active, vegetarian lifestyle. I’ve never smoked, don’t drink alcohol, don’t take drugs and never so much as looked at a paracetamol when feeling unwell or having a headache – I simply drink plenty of water and only eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
During my pregnancy my breasts became ginormous once again, easily growing three to four cup sizes and bursting out of my nursing bras but this time not leaking external fluid, instead leaking internally as the silicone bled through my PIP implants into my breast tissue and the implants deflated.
I went into premature labour twice with my son Gabriele having to have steroid injections to develop his lungs quickly before managing to hold on and give birth only a week prematurely at exactly 39wk weighing 8lbs08oz. I bled throughout my entire pregnancy intermittently for no apparent reason and my sons heart rate dropped several times as I took funny turns fainting and having hot sweats, which meant leaving work unexpectedly and being wired up to a hospital machine monitoring his heartbeat for hours and hours on end, panicking over if he would die or not.
He had mild jaundice when born as well as an extra digit on his hand, a full head of hair and hairy shoulders which I’d never seen before. Having plastic surgery when he was a month old, the extra digit was thankfully removed. He was a very clingy baby needing constant attention and reassurance and breastfed excessively. He could spend an hour agonisingly breastfeeding on one breast until my nipples bled before taking him off and crying his eyes out, only to put him onto the other side where he would feed for an hour straight again. I was concerned that he wasn’t getting enough milk and expressed the pain I was in to my midwife but she assured me that he was of a healthy weight and feeding on demand and my nipples would desensitise the longer I spent breastfeeding – but this never happened. Breastfeeding was just as painful the second time around and again I developed mastitis which ended my milk supply prematurely.
My son struggled to sleep, had separation anxiety, was forever getting poorly with high fevers, had breathing problems since birth which led to him using an inhaler and face mask, used milk for comfort and has now been diagnosed with autism and ADHD – autism causing him to misread emotions, not understand how to act or cope in social situations have absolutely no sense of danger, his ADHD makes him hyperactive with poor concentration, focus or attention. He is therefore a whirlwind of spontaneous and unpredictable energy which requires one-on-one special needs support at school and a care plan until t least the age of 25. He is essentially a very young child trapped inside a growing boys body and nobody is able to say whether he will ever be capable of leaving home, working or having a relationship.
Having My Breast Implants Removed, Replaced & Reconstructed Aged 25yrs
I didn’t use a credit card to pay for my surgery so there was nothing that I could legally do to confirm the identity of my implants, reclaim, or replace them as the clinic where I had my surgery went into administration and my surgeon left the UK. For eight years I did not know what went into my chest and had no way of getting them replaced under guarantee.
Back when the PIP scandal broke there were talks of the NHS only removing proven private PIP implants for safety but leaving ladies flat chested after because they wouldn’t replace them; I didn’t want this as I would have been left with a lot of scarring and loose hanging skin without any implants. As my surgery at 18 was private it was seen as a cosmetic procedure that the NHS didn’t want to be involved in – despite putting PIP breast implants into cancer patients following mastectomy’s.
Therefore I spoke out about the PIP scandal and used my reach to inform and alert other women who may have been in the same position as I, later discovering that around 40,000 UK women were effected and 400,000 worldwide, particularly in Latin America. I knew that it was very likely that I had PIP but without any responsibility taken by the clinic, surgeon or NHS I was absolutely on my own to find a solution to my pain and suffering.
Having appeared in magazines, newspapers and television worldwide as a model I was given the opportunity to share my repair surgery with the world, consenting to having my breast implants removed on a medical show called Extreme Beauty Disasters. In 2013 I underwent two repair surgeries with the UK’s leading surgeon Mr Vikram Vijh at The Nuffield Health hospital in Hereford where it was discovered that my 350CC leaking PIP implants were placed ontop of the muscle instead of beneath it – the opposite of everything I had been told.
Being finally free of the PIP breast implants that had broken me was the very first step of my recovery – my body, mind and spirit had to then follow which took until my thirties for me to recover. The symptoms weren’t just the scars seen on my body from three breast surgeries at the age of 25, but the mental and emotional scars that I couldn’t hide from, despite how many clothes I wore or closing my eyes.
I lost the glittering career that I had, the confidence I found and my trust in people and justice. I became a ghost of my former self, hesitant, reluctant and emotionally, mentally and physically drained with a young family to raise single-handed.
My Physical Health Symptoms With PIP Implants Aged 18-25
It’s undoubtedly difficult to tie down which symptoms have been caused by what, whether something is a natural progression of age, parenthood or side effects of PIP. With enough research and reports from PIP victims detailing their symptoms, regardless of how major or minor they may seem, together we can develop a clearer picture of any trends and anomalies in health to gain a better understanding of longterm symptoms and the likelihood of progressive illness. Personally I have suffered from:
Laser eye surgery to correct blurred vision (twice)
Prolactin hormone imbalance
Hardened lymph nodes in the groin
Fainting & dizziness
Shortness of breath
Hypersensitivity to cigarette smoke
My Physical Symptoms Post PIP Implants Aged 31yrs
It’s now been 5.5yrs since I had my leaking PIP breast implants removed (13yrs since I first had them) and the biggest toll I now have is digestive complaints and fatigue. Where just a handful of years ago I could run around all day as a busy mother of two, now I drag my knuckles by the afternoon and require caffeinated drinks to stay focused and alert. I’ve always been so upbeat and energetic despite what life throws at me, as has my mother, but I feel more like a 50yr old than a 30yr old these days. At present I suffer from:
CIN II Pre-Cancerous cells
Clicking sensation and popping sound in shoulders during movement
Shortness of breath
Hypersensitivity to cigarette smoke
Daily cramping pains similar to a period
Daily diarrhoea (for the past 2yrs ongoing)
Vitamin D deficiency
Forgetfulness and short term memory loss
Frequent mouth ulcers
Inflamed lymph nodes in the groin (for the past 2yrs ongoing)
Prolactin hormone imbalance
OCD for cleanliness and safety of the children
Emotional Symptoms Of Having Had PIP Breast Implants
Mental Health isn’t something that has been well known, talked about or understood, only recently coming to the forefront of the health industry as we identify how stress, suffering and worry leads to depression, sickness and sadly even suicide.
The many changes I experienced to my life in such a short space of time during my youth has undoubtedly had an impact on my mental health. As a shy and bullied child and teenager, having breast implants transformed me from the stereotypical ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. Before surgery I never wanted to be perfect or attractive, I just ached inside feeling disfigured by my natural breasts and desperately wanted to be normal. After my PIP breast implants failed the happiness, self acceptance and self confidence I had finally begun to experience was totally stripped away from me and it hurt even more so to experience it so intensely and then suddenly snatched away from me. My bright and promising future crushed before my eyes.
A part of me wishes I’d never found such acceptance, self confidence and success because it made letting go of it so much harder to deal with and against my wishes. Being in and out of hospital for two repair surgeries to remove, replace and reconstruct my breasts means that I underwent even more pain and suffering than I ever should have for a single breast surgery. Forever feeling tender, forever bleeding, stitched up and tingling, bandaged and healing, poked and prodded at hospital appointments and check-ups only for everything to be undone again and repeated.
It got to the point in my early twenties where I could no longer remove my bra because of the pain of my PIP implants. When most people think of breast implants they think of a perfect gravity-defying cleavage that every woman desires, not the twisted unsightly mess that I was left hiding from the world. Whilst I painted a smile on my face to mask my suffering from others the frown lines, pain behind my eyes and constant discomfort wore me down as a young woman and aged me no end. What should have been the best days of my life spent celebrating and enjoying my youth became absolute hell for me instead and I resultantly hid myself away, covering my breasts to hide their disfigurement and no longer showing my fiancé my body.
With anything foreign that you put into your body, if something goes wrong with it you can’t just take it off or pull it out like an item of clothing or accessory; you have to live with it inside of you for days, weeks, months or even years as it deteriorates, agitates and worsens whilst uni find a solution. To say I felt angry about discovering PIP breast implants were unfit for human use is an understatement; I was cheated, lied to and my health put in incredible amounts of immediate and unknown long term danger purely for the financial benefit of a man I would never meet – the owner of an organisation in France who passed industrial silicone and chemicals off as a safe CE certified medical grade product sold to almost half a million women worldwide. The thought of it still makes me feel sick. If it had happened to my own child I search the earth to bring this man to justice myself.
Breast implants gave me confidence, a family, successful career and an engagement to be married; but four days after returning home from hospital from my breast reconstruction my fiance walked out because he couldn’t cope with how different life became, how helpless three surgeries left me and how bruised, bloodied and swollen I couldn’t even dress myself, raise my arms or get out of bed as our baby cried needing his nappy changed and my daughter taken to school with piles of washing, dirty pans in the sink and bills to pay. I had always prided myself on my independence and drive keeping the house wonderfully immaculate, every meal freshly cooked, the children fed, dressed, bathed and all homework finished before bed so that when my fiance returned home from work in the evening it was an oasis of calm and quality adult time. I did everything for everyone and asked for nothing in return – until I couldn’t do anything after surgery and the tables turned.
Bed ridden as I healed, the stress, responsibility and demand put on my fiance was far too much and he left, all at once I lost everything; my work, my mobility, my strength, my body confidence, my engagement and the future of my family, I feared terribly for how I would raise my two children alone unable to work. If my mother didn’t take time off of work to drive over everyday and tend to the children I don’t know what I would have done throughout my healing, physically I was bed bound and fragile but emotionally I was absolutely heartbroken inside.
I cried for days and days in the prison of my bedroom, weak and alone, feeling terribly guilty that my helplessness had led to such horrific events and costs me so much. I couldn’t think straight, couldn’t concentrate on anything and couldn’t sleep. Everything ached, everything hurt and the hours became days as the days became weeks. Before my PIP’s leaked I had the world at my feet, positive, passionate and full of energy but after I was a skinny, weak, shaking emotional wreck. It took me six years to properly date again, to finally call somebody my boyfriend, to open up my heart to love and trust once more – the biggest hurdle to believe in marriage and accept that people can adhere to the vows of in sickness and in health. I spent the rest of my twenties a cold, isolated wreck, but at thirty I finally found love and freedom once again, my isolation and misery turning to happiness.
Looking back now I realise how different I’d become as a woman scarred by such medical disaster. I’d spent so long avoiding eye contact, feeling unattractive, hiding away, no opinion, drawing no attention to myself and living purely for the purpose of serving others. I put everyone and everything above myself, I lost my identity and meaning in life and became overly cautious and nervous about everything and anything – after losing absolutely everything you’ve ever known, loved and worked for it’s difficult to remain optimistic. But time is a healer.
Fortunately I didn’t suffer with depression or suicidal thoughts, more suffocation I would term it as. An unrelenting sense and feeling of dread, disaster and fear. Fear that the breasts would collapse again, fear that my children would get hit by a car or my parents might die young. Fear that I’d have a huge bill I was unable to pay and lose my home. Fear that overtime I saw a happy family or carefree confident woman in the street they would see the tears in my eyes and hear the croak in my voice and I mustered all of my strength to stop myself from sobbing in public.
Whilst my friends got engaged, went on holiday, explored the world, partied and built lives for themselves I was forgotten in the shadows, my life permanently on pause as I lived day to day for my children whilst nursing and hiding my wounds. Discovering my son is autistic didn’t help with my fear of trying to protect my loved ones from suffering. I always knew there was something different about him and the preschool confirmed my concerns finally reaching a diagnosis at the age of 6.5yrs for autism and ADHD. I lost the best years of my life, self acceptance and my self esteem to PIP whilst everyone around me watched me suffer helplessly and didn’t know what to say or do.
TUV1 Supreme Court Ruling: Paris October 2018
On October 10th 2018 I was invited to Paris for the PIPA press conference announcing the TUV1 Supreme Court ruling and I gave interviews to the world media talking about my personal ordeal with PIP implants.
PIPA PRESS RELEASE
“Wednesday, October 10, 2018, Paris
PIP breast implants case: the decision of the French Supreme court confirms the responsibility of the certifier TUV Rheinland and gives hope to thousands of victims around the world.
By an expected decision today, the French Supreme court (“Cour de cassation”) overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal which, incomprehensibly, had cleared the German certifier TUV Rheinland in 2015.
According to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal neglected essential elements, and made a mistake in not holding TUV liable, despite the proof provided of the failure of its controls. The highest French court ruled in the same way as the judges of the Toulon Commercial Court who, on three occasions, ordered the German group to compensate PIP victims.
With this scathing disavowal of TUV’s strategy, the French Supreme Court is paving the way for the world’s largest collective trial.
This is a decisive step in the search for liability that three distributors had began eight years ago through their French lawyer Olivier Aumaitre. The latter has since founded an association bringing together more than 15,000 patients and a collective of international lawyers at the service of victims (PIPA – PIP Implant World Victims Association : www.pipaworld.com).
Several thousand new victims have already mandated PIPA to conduct new proceedings before the Commercial Court, the first hearing of which is scheduled for 17 December 2018. PIP victims can join this legal action until that date.
For Olivier Aumaître, at the origin of the proceedings against TUV, “the Court of Cassation renders a decision in accordance with the law, fair and consistent with the objective elements of the case which are devastating for TUV. It validates all the actions we have taken since 2010 and which we have pursued against all odds for the past 8 years in the interests of the victims.
This is a victory not only for the victims but also for the European Union. This historic decision will force certifiers and their insurers to be particularly vigilant in their controls of medical devices. This self- regulation will have a virtuous effect by strengthening the safety of CE-marked products.
According to Olivier Aumaître, this is “a good decision for the consumer whose interests and health are protected by the European system and for the European economies, which are partly based on the reputation of CE marking”.
“This is a complete failure of the arrogant and threatening strategy of the German certifier, who showed a deep contempt for the victims, and who preferred to spend millions of euros unnecessarily on lawyers’ fees and on communication and denigration operations, rather than assume its responsibilities by repairing what was reparable,” said Mr. Aumaître, who is considering criminal action against TUV for attempting intimidation and blackmail of his clients.“We call on TUV to change its attitude and to grasp the hand offered from the beginning by the distributors.
TUV must now immediately compensate the victims. Indeed, the pathologies developed by PIP patients are often heavy (inflammation of the lymph nodes, contamination of different organs by the blood, etc.). The longer we wait, the worse the situations get. If TUV has shown no empathy for these victims, it is to be hoped that the financial risk will make them see reason, as the final bill may increase over time,” adds Cedric Joachimsmann, a former distributor of PIP implants, who first held TUV Rheinland liable.
As the average compensation should be between €10,000 and €20,000 per patient, according to initial indications from the courts, the total bill should amount to €6 billion for TUV Rheinland.
“We invite TUV to contribute the first billion to the European compensation fund that we are calling for in a petition. The majority of patients around the world still have to claim compensation. We intend to continue the fight, through the PIPA organization for the 400,000 victims around the world,” says Cedric Joachimsmann.
Petition on Change.org:
About PIPA :
PIPA is a digital platform designed to facilitate the handling of victims’ compensation claims and is supported by an international network of partner lawyers specializing in litigation. They are the first to have initiated compensation proceedings in France for PIP implant victims.
Since 2010, this task force has represented and defended more than 15,000 PIP implant patients on all 5 continents and in 2017 obtained an order for TUV RHEINLAND to pay their clients a record provisional compensation of nearly 60 million euros.
In 2018, more than ever, the fight continues.”
Identifying A Link Between PIP & Autism/ADHD
This is a subject that won’t be easy to swallow for many mothers or mothers-to-be, myself included, but it’s something that I found utterly shocking and far too much of a coincidence to ignore. Upon speaking with another PIP victim at the PIPA press conference I was amazed to hear that she had an autistic child too – something I rarely come across in day to day life as a mother of a special needs son. To put this into perspective my son is the only child in his entire school that has one-on-one constant care and supervision and the likelihood of anybody having an autistic child is just 1.5% – it’s rare!
To find myself speaking to a fellow PIP victim that has not only gone on to have a mentally disabled child since having faulty implants, but also mysterious health symptoms significantly similar to those of my own that my doctor cannot explain is astonishing. The more we spoke the more we realised the many familiarities between our lives since having PIP implants and so we decided to consult a PIP victims Facebook group to ask if any other women have had mentally disabled children since having their PIP implants.
As I waited for victims to read the post and respond to me my partner tried to reassure me that if a link existed then it would have already been proven by now. But of the studies carried out about PIP many years ago nothing mentions mental disabilities in babies and children. The early studies had only just started to catch the beginning of implants rupturing in some of the victims – many with implants still intact and yet to develop any negative signs and symptoms at all, whilst the latter studies started to show health issues around breathing difficulties and the immune system s implants declined and ruptured, but any babies born then were still far too young to start showing development issues so mothers wouldn’t have known anything was wrong.
An official diagnosis for a special needs child can take up to several years to obtain so the babies in the previous PIP studies would have been far too young until now, with the eldest PIP babies growing up and progressing through school age to start standing out against other children and showing a lack of ability. I felt convinced that there is a connection between PIP and disabled children and needed reassurance to either prove or disprove my theory by asking other PIP victims who have had children too. It was something I needed to know for sure to be able put my mind at ease as I couldn’t shake my gut feeling that PIP has caused my sons disability. If no other women came forward then I would have my answer within 24hrs.
My partner tried to reassure once more that others would have mentioned it by now if this was the case and I shouldn’t worry or blame myself for my sons disability. But in day to day life I’d never once made the connection between my sons disability and my breast implants aged 18, nor did I ever think that my hardened lymph nodes could be down to the silicone that leaked into me several years ago – meeting the other victims has shown me that these symptoms are all tied to PIP rather than spontaneous and unexplained health complaints that have baffled my GP. He then reasoned that from a group of 600 PIP ladies on Facebook, if everybody somehow saw my post, read it and took the time to actually reply then the national average of 1.5% likelihood of autism would mean that only 9 ladies out of 600 would come forward with a disabled child. I doubted the majority would even see my post on a Facebook page where many other comments and posts pop up daily and get lost in a wave of content; therefore I didn’t feel there would be as much response as nine ladies but aimed to connect with half as many as the likelihood of a reasonable reach and the condition itself is rare.
Within a few hours around twenty to twenty-five ladies came forward expressing their shock as our symptoms and disabled children were all exactly the same – it wasn’t a coincidence, it was three times higher than the national average and that’s without every lady definitely seeing the post or responding to it. All at once I felt a sense of relief and horror wash over me – relief that everything was falling into place and finally making sense, but horror at the thought of illegal breast implants potentially causing our babies to face lifelong disabilities. It’s one thing to accept having a disabled child because of nature, but another knowing it was caused deliberately by industrial chemical exposure of PIP silicone during pregnancy and should have been prevented.
I can hand on heart say that none of us ladies ever set out to cause adverse health issues to ourselves, our children or our future babies. When I had my breast implants 13yrs ago I was told that they were perfectly safe, would cause me no harm, have no side effects and not prevent me from having healthy children from breast feeding. All of these circumstances are the complete opposite of what has happened to us and our families.
The only blame here must be put onto the deceitful, greedy, selfish and corrupt individuals that allowed illegal industrial ingredients to be used within CE certified breast implants and this is why we must seek justice. As women we were mislead of the implants contents, safety and lifespan with many implants rupturing within several years as they disintegrated inside of the body and spread through lymph nodes and blood.
Equally, we deserve to understand what this now means for us as mothers if a medical study is conducted and can prove a link between PIP and autism/ADHD. I know how hard my life is as a single parent juggling working with raising my disabled son. My daughter has had to grow up very quickly because of this, she has developed great patience and understanding for her brothers special needs and sadly miss out on many everyday activities and experiences throughout her childhood that other families enjoy take for granted because it’s not something Gabriele can attend, cope or remain calm during. Even being at Millie’s end of term dance performance today I struggled to keep Gabriele calm and seated as I tried my best to video Millie dancing with one hand and keep hold of his hand with the other; he constantly tried to run around, blow raspberries loudly during the speeches, deliberately distract other children and touch adults hands and legs to ask them questions as they focused on videoing their own child’s performance.
I have to have eyes in the back of my head, as many hands as an octopus and cannot rest for a second around my son because he’s into everything everywhere all at once. Everything is a million miles an hour, I live on high alert constantly trying to keep him safe, calm and away from others. I cannot take him to the supermarket, anywhere crowded, loud or important because he’s an absolute whirlwind who cannot comprehend what kind of behaviour or language is socially acceptable. To have another child with the same or worse needs would have such a negative impact on our family and greatly reduce our quality of life. If PIP does in fact cause mental disabilities in our victims babies I would highly reconsider ever having another child.
After having a miscarriage and suffering ill health because of my PIP, repair surgeries and ailments I count my blessings twice each and every day and I’m so grateful for the two children that I have. Whilst I juggle everything so precisely right now to keep life as balanced and healthy as possible, it is a very hard life that I don’t think many could understand or even cope with by themselves.
Speaking with my new partner about the potential to have future children together we both agreed we’d like another one or two as he’s never had a child of his own and aspires to become a father in life. We discussed what we would hope and wish for a baby – to be healthy, active, have a good education, work hard, love learning and establish security in life as I’m sure most parents would want the same or similar. Then we discussed what we wouldn’t want for a baby – to see a child suffer, to have a poor quality of life, to struggle with education or become trapped within a disability preventing a safe or positive existence.
Clearly we all wish for the best for our children, and if disabilities naturally happen then they happen, we can do everything in our power to prevent disability but everyday babies are born blind, deaf, without limbs or mentally disabled and it’s just something we have to accept if it happens. It doesn’t mean we’d love them any less, it just makes life a lot harder and more limiting. With all of my sons issues he is still my absolute little ray of light, ball of fun and has such a cheerful character living in the moment, being literal in everything that he does and reminding me that childhood innocence and sheer joy are something to hold onto and celebrate. I’d move heaven and earth for my children and couldn’t imagine my life without them – they’re what make my life beautiful and keep me motivated to provide and care for them regardless of the struggles I’ve been through. They kept me going when everything fell around me.
But what if this connection is proven and we know as victims of PIP that our future children will be mentally disabled because of it? Or the likelihood of autism/ADHD isn’t the national average of 1.5% for us but 65% instead? What if mothers already struggle to adjust to parenthood, suffer post natal depression, stress with disciplining children, can’t keep up with work and housework and everything involved in life as it is? What if parenting automatically becomes far harder, with less hope, less help, less understanding or acceptance and at the cost of happy relationships and marriages? What if the plates that I kept spinning all of these years to make everyone else happy and keep my family safe and in order fell and I lost everything because nobody else could walk a mile in my shoes? Is that the life you would wish for a child? Any child? Your own?
I’ve always told myself that regardless of my sons disabilities he will still have a wonderfully happy life filled with love and support. But he could very well struggle as an adult, feel isolated the further he progresses into school years and suffer terribly at the hands of bullies for being different. It’s a cruel world we live in, I was bullied up until the age of seventeen for no reason other than being too quiet, imagine what children with disabilities have to face.
I believe in saving lives, preserving life and not walking out or giving up on responsibility. Until the day I die my children will always be my priority. But if my love for children and extending my family meant that any future babies I have will be disabled I would feel incredibly selfish and guilty for allowing that to happen, for knowing the risks and putting that onto another soul who must deal with that their entire life long after I’ve passed away. It’s one thing to accept choices you’ve made about your own life, but another to solely live with the consequences of your choice that can change somebody else’s life entirely. I would never have taken the gamble and risk of using PIP breast implants given the choice and would not wish this position upon anyone; to go through the suffering, pain, loss and sadness I have faced has been catastrophic to my life. Equally I don’t feel that I can gamble with the risk of passing a disability to a child if I were found to carry a faulty gene, just as I wouldn’t drink alcohol, smoke or take drugs during pregnancy knowing that it could dramatically, or even fatally, impact on my precious baby.
Therefore it’s the not knowing that is so worrying. Either way my son is mentally disabled and always will be, whether it’s because of Mother Nature or industrial chemical exposure from my PIP implants during pregnancy. Knowing the answer cannot turn back time or give my son a normal carefree life; but it can allow us and 400,000 other women worldwide to make an informed decision about our future and the future of our family. Worst case scenario, if every PIP victim has two children there could potentially be an extra 800,000 disabled babies in the world; each needing life long care through government/tax payers funding, a special needs education, medical assistance, specialist support, development testing and lifelong disability benefits and housing. Bloodlines may end if these children never have relationships, marriages and children of their own some day – this domino effect is unimaginable.
The financial cost of raising a disabled child is reported as being up to three times the amount of a ‘normal’ child, something many able families already struggle with. With the risk of miscarriage being 75% in the first two weeks of pregnancy dropping to 3% at twelve weeks it’s already a miracle that so many children are born healthy and able bodied each day. Life is so precious and should be cherished for the blessing that it is, not messed with, ruined and even extinguished prematurely because of medical negligence and greed. I’ve dreamed of having another child to complete my family, but I would blame myself for the rest of my life if my PIP symptoms were to cause my baby to struggle for the rest of its life. The kindest thing I could do in that position is to not bring another child into the world needing such extensive lifelong care.
As victims we have already been through enough, fighting tirelessly for eight long years for justice against the worlds largest medical negligence case. At the very least we deserve an apology, to be treated with respect and to no longer be kept in the dark about the health implications and risks for our future children – it’s a human right.
Understanding Learning Schemas
Schemas are often described as children’s fascinations in many different types, these activities may seem strange or even irritating to adults, but to the child it’s a necessary step in their understanding of the world and themselves.
This is something that my son presented at preschool to a severe extent and the teacher spoke to me about. At several months old he would sit in front of the washing machine for hours and hours on end fascinated by the spinning of the drum. By preschool he became obsessed with water, running taps and watching the spiral funnel down into the sink and in the bath. This developed into turning switches off and on repeatedly, twenty or so times in one go, pulling door handles up and down until every door in my house broke and finding a fascination for clocks, fans, dials, digits and measures as a young boy. He’s had around 100 clocks, fans, pocket watches and radio alarms all of which he’s taken apart, broken, fixed, rebuilt and modified.
Whilst other children playfully explore and learn my son becomes obsessive about one set thing and then tests and uses it over and over again to breaking point, having tantrums if he is taken away from it or asked to stop. Whilst he can’t concentrate or focus on lessons and instructions asked of him he can easily spend several hours in a day obsessively poking, testing and pushing an object until it breaks, despite the fact that he loves it. He has no concept of protecting his belongings or treating them as precious.
This was the first step to identifying something was different about my mentally disabled son. It may or may not be the case for others, but I believe sharing my findings can help to identify disabilities in young children who may take years to diagnose.
- Abnormal body posturing or facial expressions
- Abnormal tone of voice
- Avoidance of eye contact or poor eye contact
- Behavioural disturbances
- Deficits in language comprehension
- Delay in learning to speak
- Flat or monotonous speech
- Inappropriate social interaction
- Intense focus on one topic
The chemicals that may cause autism during pregnancy are lead, methylmercury, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, endocrine disruptors, automotive exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, brominated flame retardants and perfluorinated compounds.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type and is characterised by a problem paying attention, excessive activity or difficulty controlling behaviour which is not appropriate for a person’s age.
ADHD is most commonly hereditary but factors can influence brain development and functioning such as exposure to toxic substances in the developing foetus and acquired brain injury due to trauma or disease.
Symptoms of ADHD include:
- Disorganisation and problems prioritising
- Poor time management skills
- Problems focusing on a task
- Trouble multitasking
- Excessive activity or restlessness
- Poor planning
- Low frustration tolerance
As a baby my son would frequently want to hurt himself, crawling over to the sofa, a chair, table or wall and trying to bump his head against it as if he were ramming it over. He didn’t seem phased by the sensation of hitting himself and as he grew he began punching himself in the chin overtime he felt excited which are also attributes of autism.
The biggest giveaway of ADHD in my son from a young age was his excessive energy levels, where other children would tire from running around playing he would simply develop stamina and the more he played the more capable he was of sustaining energy. As a baby he would crawl up and down the stairs several times a day without tiring.
At the age of 6.5yrs he’s very difficult to take to social functions as he struggles to sit still. In the cinema he wants to touch and experience everything, standing up during the film to stroke the walls, asking for the toilet, kicking the seat in front, asking a million questions, becoming bored and trying to wave his hands and arms around. It’s like trapping a frantic butterfly in a glass jar that wants to fly away into the open air, he’s a snowball of chaos and energy that only ever seems to gather pace.
He can’t sit still at the dinner table, can’t keep quiet at a church, can’t pay attention in class when it’s time to listen and learn and is very hand-on and boisterous in his play with other children.
- Lack of social awareness
- Lack of interest in socialising/making friends
- Difficulty making and sustaining friendships
- Inability to infer the thoughts, feelings, or emotions of others
- Gazing too intently or avoiding eye contact
Whilst my son hasn’t been diagnosed as having AS he does struggle with social awareness for his behaviour, is happy to play alone for long periods of time, misreads emotions in others and has always struggled with eye contact.
A miscarriage is the spontaneous or unplanned expulsion of a feotus from the womb before it is able to survive independently. As many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most often before knowing you are pregnant. Around 15-25% of recognised pregnancies will end in a miscarriage and more than 80% of miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy.
Symptoms of miscarriage include:
- Bleeding progressing from light to heavy
- Severe cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Tetrachloroethylene used in dry cleaning
- Arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide
- Alcohol consumption, which can also cause birth defects and intellectual disabilities
Ingredients to avoid whilst pregnant:
- Retinoids found in Retin-A and Accutane for acne and anti-ageing medications
- Tetracycline medications include doxycycline and minocycline
Medical Negligence Compensation
The cost of my repair surgery was £11,000.00 in 2013, adding the initial £4,000.00 surgery fee in 2005 totalling £15,000.00 – the equivalent of £21,700.00 with inflation in todays money. Thirteen years after having illegal non-medical grade implants put into my body the fight continues to bring justice and compensation to the 400,000 women involved in this case.
A number of victims have received a writ/summons from TUV bailiffs regarding the legal appeal for compensation stating victims are not registered nor represented in court and will lose our legal rights which is nothing more than scaremongering by the opposing side in the hope that victims will drop the case and walk away for fear of legal response. PIPA have confirmed these letters can be disregarded as we do not need to attend court nor answer the notification and the process of being served packs of legal documents in French is extremely daunting, unsettling and grossly unnecessary. A severe lack of respect towards the hundreds of thousands of victims who have already been through enough pain and suffering and have waited too long to be compensated.
PIPA have launched an online petition for an immediate compensation fund to assist victims of CE marked products. The PIPA petition states:
“None of the victims of PIP breast implants can be certain that they will receive compensation. Those who cannot afford to remove their toxic implants continue to live with a time bomb in their breasts.
It is high time to put an end to this ordeal for thousands of women, who, like the victims of sexual assault, are often told that they “looked for it” and who, when they dare to demand justice, must face the opprobrium of those who have let it happen.
However, their only wrong was to trust a certified health product that had received the CE mark (European Conformity), which was supposed to be a guarantee of safety for the consumer.
The PIP affair is everyone’s business, the CE marking having to be affixed on thousands of products: our children’s toys, our telephones, our boilers, our vehicles, our household products, our microwave ovens, condoms etc. A compensation fund to be launched by the European Union primarily for PIP victims would have several virtues.
It would allow all patients throughout the world implanted with this class 3 medical device to have the assurance that the medical costs and prejudices generated by the non-compliance of this product are covered in a rapid, certain, egalitarian and non-discriminatory manner, without being subjected to legal uncertainty and procedural delays that aggravate their suffering; by at least provisionally assuming the financial consequences of the failure of a product bearing its CE mark, the European Union would send a very strong signal to consumers throughout the world by demonstrating that this certification provides a minimum level of protection through financial compensation; this would be likely to restore confidence in CE marking among economic players whose reliability is being undermined by this scandal; by intervening as the beneficiary of the patients, for the amount it will have paid, this fund will give the possibility to the justice system to calmly determine, without external pressure, the responsibilities of the various actors, with a view to enabling the public authorities to recover the funds thus advanced in the interests of consumers; it will enable the justice system to work serenely once the priority issue of compensation for victims has been settled; it would serve as a reference tool for any future failure of a CE product; it would have the human, legal and coercive means necessary to seek responsibilities, on equal terms with the entities they would decide to pursue.
PIP implant victims often face serious complications after many of them had already suffered cancer and reconstruction. The industrial gel used by PIP, which makes implants more fragile, has a rupture rate of six times higher than others and spreads more easily in the body and frequently causes inflammation of the lymph nodes. The first victims who have legitimately acted in court by suing the German certifier of the PIP implants had to undergo a real judicial yoyo: whereas the court of first instance condemned the certifier to compensate them, the court of appeal reversed this first decision. This certifier, a multinational company with a turnover of 2 billion euros, had no qualms about having the accounts of 50 French patients brutally seized to recover 3000 euros (sum already used by some patients for surgery).
As for the thousands of women who attacked this certifier in another procedure, and who again obtained his conviction, they received a letter of intimidation and threats from the German group then summonses by bailiffs. They suffer a double, triple or even quadruple penalty: cancer, reconstruction, intoxication by PIP, legal waiting, then retaliation by the certifier. Thousands have given up or hesitate for these reasons to seek redress. The decision of the Court of Cassation on 10 October 2018 in the PIP case will not put an end to this endless judicial journey. There is an urgent need to address the suffering of these women and prevent others.”
In the meantime victims are being asked to make a 1 minute video about how PIP has affected you, this material will be used to support the campaign and can be submitted via the PIPA platform at www.pipaworld.com and can also be a written testimonial with your full name, only first name or just initials. Possible questions you can answer in a testimonial include:
-How has the PIP case affected you?
-Why do you think it is important that victims join in this legal battle?
-Why do you think victims should get compensation?
-What do you think about TUV? (the CE certifying body of PIP)
A procedural meeting is set to take place before the Court Of Appeal in November 2018 where I will keep you updated…