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Public Petitions Committee 22 October 2020
Dr Dionysios Veronikis

PE1517 - Petitioners' final Submission.
Some important questions and concerns still
to be addressed and actioned
Mesh injured women in forced adoption scandal
Marion McMillan

Victim of a mesh implant, forced adoption and terminal cancer.
Sunday Post - First to highlight the scandal.

Click to read
US film maker Caitlin McCarthy warns it’s not just mesh forced adoption women who may have suffered with, Stilbestrol or DES - the drug given to dry up breast milk is now found to cause cancer.

Marion McMillan's Story...
Mesh injured campaigner Marion McMillan believes thousands of women who were caught in the Forced Adoption Scandal may have suffered birth trauma and injury. She said that many vulnerable young mothers were denied pain relief and suffered traumatic births and cruel treatment so they were “taught a lesson” not to have another baby outside marriage.

Marion, 73, from Paisley, said: “I suffered a lot of trauma and pain during childbirth and the way I was treated was unnecessarily cruel. I know from speaking to thousands of other women who were caught in the scandal, that I was not the only one. “I have often wondered if that cruel treatment and traumatic birth led to the injuries that led to me requiring a mesh implant which of course caused extensive damage and left me crippled. “I know many other women were not given humane treatment, often told that they were being taught a lesson so they would remember never to get pregnant again while they were not married.”

Marion has spent her lifetime fighting against Forced Adoption, and is calling on the Scottish government to issue an official apology as Australia did in 2012. Marion McMillan gave evidence to the 2012 Australian apology, and now she is dying of cancer, she is fighting against time to ensure Scotland issues the apology before she dies. At a recent evidence hearing, MSP’s wept as they listened to Marion’s personal story.

At 17, growing up in Stranraer, she became pregnant and was sent away to a mother and baby home. She fought for nine months to keep her baby, and was devastated when her son was given instead to a married couple.

Marion returned home to be given a £10 note and a suitcase. Finding herself homeless and bereft, Marion met her future husband George, and the two have been inseparable ever since. It would be 40 years before Marion finally found her son and they were reunited. He had been told that Marion had not wanted him, a cruel lie. But he had been able to find poems his mother had left for him, proving that her heart was breaking and she never wanted to give him up for adoption despite what he had been told. Despite suffering dreadful mesh injuries, Marion has continued her fight for justice as one of the long standing members of Scottish Mesh Survivors, and the founder of Forced Adoption Scotland.

Around 250,000 families in Scotland we’re affected by Forced Adoption according to the Scottish government, and Marion is determined to ensure women get they health check and support they need as well as an apology.

Like many other Forced Adoption mothers, Marion was given the drug Stilbestrol, or DES as it is known in the US, to dry up her breast milk when her baby was born.

It is now known to be linked to deadly cancers and defects to the reproductive organs in children and grandchildren of the women who were given the drug, as well as being linked to sexual identity issues in some.
  The Scottish Parliament has heard evidence from film maker Caitlin McCarthy whose movie Wonder Drug is in production.
In a powerful presentation she explained that she is a DES daughter, one of many thousands in the US affected because their mothers were given the drug.

She said: “Stilbestrol or Des is the hidden Thalidomide. Many thousands o people have been affected and the dug companies have paid millions in compensation. But nobody has said sorry for allowing this to happen to so many around the world. “I am hoping when the Scottish parliament issues an adoption apology, it will also apologise for the use of those drug and launch a public awareness campaign so people can undergo the health checks that could save their lives.

“The Scottish government has the opportunity to lead the world and do the right thing. I hope they do so.” The UK health watchdog the MHRA say they have no records to show who was given the drug. But MSP Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative Shadow Social Justice Secretary said: “This sinister aspect of the Forced Adoption scandal is something we cannot continue to sweep under the carpet. Now we know about the possible dangers we must at the very least have a public awareness campaign so those affected can get the appropriate health checks.” The move is backed by MSP Monica Lennon who said: “We owe it to these women, who have already lost so much, to ensure they are made aware of the possible health issues they may face as a result of taking this drug.
“Anyone who heard the powerful testimony from Caitlin McCarthy could not fail to understand the seriousness and urgency of the situation.”

Marion McMillan said: “I was given up to 16 Stilbestrol tablets a day, something I’m sure would horrify doctors today.”
Politicians from every party are supporting Forced Adoption victims who are seeking a formal apology as was given in Australia in 2012 by their Prime Minister Julia Guillard.
SNP MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Rona Mackay said: “What these women have been through is unimaginable and inhumane. The event in Parliament featured powerful and courageous testimonies from women whose lives have been ruined by what happened to them decades ago. “They don’t want retribution, they simply want an apology and acknowledgment for what was done to them. I don’t think that’s too much to ask and I fully support their calls for a public apology.”

Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley said: “The Scottish government has been aware of this scandal since 2012 when Marion McMillan began her campaign, and it is shameful that all these years on these women are still struggling to get the apology they deserve and the health checks and support services they need for what was done to them.”
Marion would love to hear from any women who has been affected by the Forced Adoption Scandal and she can be contacted at:
How we met and grew
Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy   Their friendship was born out of adversity and a determination that no other women would have to suffer the devastating effects of mesh surgery.
Today they are the best of friends, two women united in a common aim, to ensure no other woman is put at risk from the polypropylene mesh implants which have devastated hundreds of thousands of lives across the world.

Before they knew each other, Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy were struggling to come to terms with constant pain and crippling side effects of a surgery that was supposed to 'change their lives'.

Both had been told they were 'unique', that the life changing injuries both had suffered had never been seen before. When the two women found each other, they knew they were not unique, they knew they had to use all their strength to campaign and raise awareness to ensure no other women would suffer the same fate.

Launching Scottish Mesh Survivors 'Hear Our Voice' campaign brought
together hundreds of other women suffering the effects of polypropylene mesh
implant surgery, and changed forever the way the NHS sought consent from
patients. Because of their efforts, not only have other women empowered themselves, their relentless campaign led to the procedures being suspended
pending a safety inquiry.

For the first time, the NHS in Scotland has also been required to seek informed consent from every new patient, telling them each and every side effect of the surgery now at the centre of multi-billion pound legal actions across the world.
Elaine, from Newton Mearns, and Olive, from Renfrew, were both awarded the Sunday Mail's 'Unsung Hero' award for their outstanding efforts, introducing new levels of patient awareness and choice.
Scottish Mesh Survivors  
  The Sunday Mail Support  
  Marion Scott

Marion Scott

Reporter & Journalist
of the Year 2015

As shocked as we all are by the hundreds and thousands of women suffering injuries, I fear we are only just seeing the tip of the iceberg of the mesh implant scandal. I firmly believe this is one of the biggest medical scandals of all time, and believe we will look back at this as with the same despair our parents feel when they look back on thalidomide. The true cost, the lives lost and changed forever, the families left picking up broken pieces, the careers and talents lost from society, and of course our NHS shouldering the cost of treatment, is simply beyond calculation. Just one broken, crippled woman is one woman too many. We know of hundreds and thousands across the world.

How many more before health watchdogs acknowledge the danger of mesh implants? If we do not act now, at least two generations of women could be put at risk of life changing injury by these plastic ticking timebombs. That is why the Sunday Mail is proud to campaign for change, raise awareness, and support the selfless women behind the Scottish Mesh Survivors 'Hear Our Voice' campaign.

Marion Scott, Sunday Mail - 17 March 2015
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