Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Mrs Laura Hayward (B 9)

  I would like to draw you attention to my association with Silicone Breast Implants and my ill health, and the treatment I have received over the years.

  I was first implanted in July 1981 at the then Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital in Woolwich. After a consultation with my own GP, I was told that due to a lumpectomy at the young age of 16, I was faced with the prospect of not being able to breast feed any children I may have in later years. Then only being 19 years old and in a serious relationship I was taken aback by this sad thought, but was reassured that the situation could be resolved by a simple breast reconstruction operation. I was then referred to the above-mentioned hospital for an appointment and later admitted. There my problems were to only just begin.

  The op went well and after care visits were said to be satisfactory, but I was aware that all was not quite as it should be.

  I was seen again in out patients in May 1984, after successfully breast feeding my first born in April 1983. I had problems with hardening of the implant and was told that I had to have another operation to remove the right implant and replace it with a smaller one, commonly known as open capsulotomy. I was admitted on 14/10/84 for the operation the following day.

  The op went as arranged but, I wasn't made aware that they had in fact only removed the implant by cutting into the old scar, performing the open capsulotomy and re-inserting the old implant.

  Then on 15/03/85 I was re-admitted for this time a closed capsulotomy, as I was told my problem was because there was "Too much projection".

  On 01/05/85 I was returned for the outpatient's appointment, the diagnosis was as follows: Left breast looks very nice. Right breast a problem. The doctor then added my name to the list for more surgery and exploration and new prosthesis may be indicated.

  14/08/85, operation took place, but only closed capsulotomy of both breasts took place. O/P clinic on 15/11/85, Dr states that the right breast shows a degree of ptosis compared with the left, again my name on the waiting list!

  03/08/86, Op the next day, this time the following was performed: Elevation right nipple, ie My nipple cut off and moved to the correct position!

  Throughout these short years my breasts were always hard and were giving me a lot of pain. I had also to endure more breast surgery to remove breast lumps which had been discovered. Again, later on I had a further breast clinic appointment as I had discovered small lumps under my arm, the surgeon told me then that this was due to the silicone implants and I could expect to find many more in years to follow!

  In 1994 I went to St Thomas Hospital where I was operated on and both implants removed and replaced by what I was lead to believe were saline filled. I was informed that I had in fact suffered what is now known as a rupture and leakage of the silicone into my body! Although I had been unwell in general for many years I wasn't then aware that the cause was the silicone. Shortly afterwards the new saline implants began to deflate and I was left flat in what seemed no time at all!

  Now my mental health was beginning to deteriorate and I was paranoid by my shape and looks, being in a relatively new marriage. I felt that my world had caved in. So my husband agreed to pay for me to go private and have a new look. Little did we know what death sentence I was signing! The op was for 1995, although I was led to believe that I had saline in the second set, I was told by the surgeon that "whatever it was, it wasn't saline". After some months, my health was getting very much worse, I had severe pain firstly in the lower back area then getting worse to the point of me having to give up my much loved job in Feb 1997, to this day I have been too ill to return.

  I eventually had the third set removed after many months of fighting, humiliation and rejection from all avenues. I was told that I could have them removed, but as Siliconosis wasn't recognised and the operation wasn't considered necessary I would have to wait anything up to 18 months, then they could only remove the implant, and not the capsule formed around the implants, which we now know to be the leaked silicone into the breast tissue, as the theatre time available would exceed the ten min op and take up valuable time where needed elsewhere!

  I finally had them removed in March 1999, but only after I was humiliated and made to look like a neurotic woman by the surgeon concerned, stating that "his sister had implants and there were no health dangers".

  I didn't go to him for his family history! I just wanted these things out of my body! The implants were removed leaving me disfigured, flat chested and less like a woman than I felt at the young age of 19 when I had small different sized breasts! The removal is what may well be termed as "A double mastectomy".

  I am now disabled, virtually housebound, in constant severe pain; I have ME, (chronic fatigue). Have to rely on someone to care for my daily needs, push me around in a wheelchair when I am well enough to get up and go out. I have very poor short-term memory, depression, weakness and pain in every muscle, bond and joint in my body. I cannot cook, clean, dress or bath myself. I am only 38 years old, I have recently had to have a stair lift installed, as I cannot get up and down stairs safely anymore. I spend most of my time unable to get up, let alone do anything. Life is just awful, all because I was told that "Having a breast augmentation would benefit breast-feeding my babies!"

  I have had to fight for acceptance of my illness and this disease, I have been dragged through hell and back with regards to doctors disabled living allowance and incapacity benefit claims, because this illness isn't recognised. My illness is very real, like many women and we should be heard, understood and helped. Not ignored, abused and left to pick up the pieces! We need these silicone implants to be banned. We want acceptance from the Government, doctors, benefit agencies and need action fast!

  I have tried to keep this brief, but with everything considered, it hasn't been easy. I am enclosing copies of my hospital records where available, referring to the first set of implants. I am also enclosing copy letter from Dr Sarah Myhill, [5] with whom I visited in 1998, she diagnosed my ME, blood samples were taken, results enclosed. Also test results for a positive reaction to silicone and a silicone antibody count of 192.

  For the record, I have also had to undergo a total hysterectomy and various other female illnesses which may/may not be linked to the silicone issue.

  Respectfully yours

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