The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 08/06/2009
NATALIE SLADE/Dominion Post
SCARRED: Carla Gardiner had to have a four-hour operation to remove the scar tissue caused by anti-scarring gel during her initial surgery.
Carla Gardiner, 35, had surgery in 2005 for severe endometriosis, a condition in which abnormal growths develop in pelvic organs, causing inflammation, scarring and pain.
"It [the endometriosis] was so bad I would be on the floor in the foetal position howling with period pain. I needed codeine just to get through the day."
About a week after the operation, she developed an infection and spent a week in Wellington Hospital hooked up to a drip.
In fact, Ms Gardiner had probably suffered chemical peritonitis her internal organs had become inflamed by Confluent SprayGel, which was supposed to prevent scarring.
She recovered, and initially, the surgery seemed to have worked. But when she began getting bad period pain and intermittent bleeding a couple of years later, she went back to her specialist, Hanifa Koya.
It was then that she learned her problem could have been caused by the gel.
She had repeat surgery in March last year a four-hour operation to remove scar tissue.
Both operations have cost her insurance company about $30,000. Her insurance premiums have skyrocketed in recent years, but since the endometriosis diagnosis, no other company will agree to cover her.
Belinda Colley, 32, has had three operations since 2004: the first for endometriosis and two more to remove scarring caused by anti-scarring gel.
All her operations were covered by insurance, but she is angry she had to go through so much "unnecessary pain".
"It astounds me that they have never admitted liability when it's patently obvious their product was faulty.
"The scarring was worse than the endometriosis. Hanifa said it was like a spider-web ... everything was stuck together."
Newtown artist Mika Still, 34, had surgery for severe endometriosis in Wellington Hospital in 2004 after a referral from her private specialist.
"For the first couple of months after the operation, I was in very bad pain ... but I thought that was to be expected with major surgery.
"But then I started to feel something wasn't right. I had this dull ache all the time."
In 2007, she consulted Mrs Koya. Surgery revealed there was no endometriosis but her fallopian tubes were "super-glued" to her pelvic wall with multiple layers of scar tissue.
"That explained the pain."
Ms Still did not blame surgeons for using the gel because they thought they were doing the right thing.
"But it makes me angry that no-one was monitoring it ... it goes against medical ethics, firstly do no harm."