Mesh surgeon accused of removing woman’s ovaries without her consent

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Moya Crockett
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The woman, Lucinda Methuen Campbell, recently died. 

A Bristol surgeon removed a woman’s ovaries without her consent because they “got in the way” while he was performing mesh surgery, according to reports.

Tony Dixon was internationally renowned for his use of mesh in bowel and pelvic surgery, using the material to fix prolapses often experienced by women after childbirth. After several women complained that his mesh surgery had left them in severe pain, Dixon was suspended from performing certain procedures at two hospitals in Bristol, and he is currently under investigation by the NHS.

Now, BBC News reports that Dixon removed the ovaries of Lucinda Methuen Campbell, a woman from Wales who came to him for mesh surgery in 2014.

Methuen Campbell was found dead at her home in January, and the coroner is currently investigating her cause of death. Before she died, she told the BBC that she had not consented to Dixon removing her ovaries as part of the mesh surgery, which she had when she was 54 to avoid a hysterectomy.

She said she had extensive consultations with Dixon before the surgery, where she was informed that she had problems requiring surgery on her womb as well as her bowel.

However, she said they never discussed the possibility that her ovaries would be removed. Afterwards, Methuen Campbell said that Dixon “said he thought he’d done me a favour.

“And he said: ‘I thought you know, a woman of your age wouldn’t really need her ovaries.’

“I said, ‘Why did you remove them?’ and he said ‘They were in the way’.”

Lucinda Methuen Campbell said she was informed after surgery that her ovaries had been removed (picture posed by models)      

Dixon said that he could not comment on specific allegations against him due to patient confidentiality. In November, The Guardian reported that 100 women were considering legal action against the surgeon, claiming that his treatment left them with life-altering complications including unmanageable pain or incontinence and needing to undergo major further surgery.

Some of the women said that Dixon was too quick to suggest invasive surgical procedures to deal with pelvic problems. Others alleged that he had spoken to them inappropriately, including telling one woman (who was in her 20s at the time of the surgery): “You have the arse of an 80-year-old. I wouldn’t want you dancing in my strip club.”

The surgeon has been referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) over his use of mesh procedures, and he is also being investigated by the North Bristol NHS Trust.

“We would like to reassure patients affected by this that we are taking this very seriously and our investigations are continuing,” said Dr Chris Burton, medical director at North Bristol NHS Trust.

The group medical director at the Spire, a private hospital in Bristol where Dixon also worked, also said that he had been suspended from surgery in July 2017.

“This was followed by a full suspension of his practising privileges in early November 2017, which means he is no longer working at the hospital,” said Dr JJ de Gorter.

In the last 18 months, there has been increased attention on the potential problems of using mesh in pelvic surgeries. In April 2017, hundreds of women began taking legal action against the NHS for pain caused by vaginal mesh implants (which are supposed to prevent incontinence and support organs that have prolapsed after childbirth), saying that they had been left in chronic pain by the surgery.

In February this year, meanwhile, scientists at the University of Sheffield announced that they had created a more flexible implant that could help women experiencing prolapse post-childbirth. However, this was greeted with scepticism by campaigners against mesh implants

Images: Piron Guillaume / Unsplash / Getty Images


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Moya Crockett

Moya is Contributing Women’s Editor at and Deputy Editor of Stylist Loves, Stylist's daily email newsletter.