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Published on 12 Nov 2012 | over 5 years ago

This is what remains of Jackie Donaldson's breast implant. Since the PIP scandal broke last December, plastic surgeon Ken Stewart has removed implants from over 40 women. Ten days ago we took this implant out. You can see the shell is completely torn and the gel has lost much of its cohesive nature. There's a white pus-like material which was negative in culture. Jackie Donaldson decided to get breast implants when she was 21. She didn't know the implants were made with substandard mattress-grade silicone from the French PIP company. When I first saw the news about the dangers of PIP implants, I was extremely worried because I knew that was the type of implants that I had. I didn't know my implants had ruptured until I got them removed on Thursday. Jackie Donaldson was lucky. Her implants were replaced for free. Tens of thousands of women are struggling to find money for the operation. Many have launched legal actions against private clinics for the faulty implants. Jackie feels, like many others, that the government should pay. The government should remove these implants and replace them free of charge as it's not the patient's fault they've been given these wrong implants. The UK is lagging behind other EU countries which are recommending removal for PIP implants. A government report in June stated that PIP implants pose no long-term health risk to women. But the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons urges all women to have these implants removed. I tell women that if they were my wife and they had breast implants made by PIP, then I would have my wife have them removed. All the testing on PIP implants to date doesn't demonstrate any significant health risk, in terms of toxicology, genotoxicity, cellular toxicity, inflammatory response. However, when we operate on patients when they're ruptured we often see white pus-like material round the implants which is difficult to believe would be good for your health. Since the PIP scandal broke, several women have been diagnosed with cancer, though there is no conclusive proof to link the faulty devices with the disease. In London, recovering cancer patient Jan Spivey spoke of the horror at finding the device to aid her recovery from breast cancer was another potential health hazard. I found it very difficult to sleep. I was very, very stressed. The only thing I could concentrate on was an opportunity to get the PIPs out. Feeling alone, she decided to start a campaign group and discovered many women with similar symptoms of ruptured PIP implants, including migraines and breast pains. Their website PipsLeak seeks to gather evidence to prove PIPs are toxic, but suffered a setback when the UK government report refuted their claims. We were just horrified, just absolutely horrified. And partially because we knew that couldn't possibly be true, that mattress-filler inside our bodies could have no potential impact on our health at all. It's very clear to all of us that we've been poisoned. We've been poisoned for as long as we've had PIP implants in place. The PIP implant scandal sparked a revamp of EU rules on medical devices. MEP Linda McAvan, who has led the campaign for tighter EU regulation on breast implants, was in London to discuss the issue. What happened with the PIP implant scandal was that it showed that there were loopholes and problems with the way medical devices are marketed in Europe and it undermined consumer and patient confidence in those devices. So what we need to do in the next two years is tighten up the legislation to make sure that PIP can never happen again. The new EU rules on medical devices would mean all breast implants would be tested in unannounced spot checks, and there would be a register of who had what implant. Linda McAvan would like the EU to go further to protect patients. She echoed the calls of PIP victims calling for health before wealth, and for private clinics to offer free implant removals. They take the profits, but want the taxpayer to pay when it goes wrong. It's a bit like the banks. We can't have it with cosmetic surgery. So, yes, we need a different system. The UK government will release its next report on PIP implants in March 2013, while the new EU rules on medical devices could take up to two years to come into effect. Small consolation to the women Jan is fighting for to have their toxic, ticking time bombs removed.

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