Breast implants: Former patient calls for NI registry

Liza Kilpatrick
Image caption Ms Kilpatrick had breast reconstruction surgery in 2015, but said that is where her health problems really began.

A former cancer patient has called for a breast implant registry in Northern Ireland to be set up after being caught up in an implant recall.

Liza Kilpatrick, from Strabane, County Tyrone, was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2013.

She had a double mastectomy and, in 2015, was fitted with Allergan textured implants, one of which ruptured.

They were recalled worldwide in 2019 after being linked with a rare form of cancer that affects the immune system.

Ms Kilpatrick needed to have her textured implants removed in May 2019.

She claimed many women were not fully informed of the risks associated with breast implants and she struggled to get answers on the type of implants she had been given.

"I had just come out of surgery. Nobody could seem to answer the questions for me," Ms Kilpatrick said.

"It was monotonous, like banging your head off a wall, seeing people flick through files and they still can't answer you."

Image caption Ms Kilpatrick now wants to see the introduction of a registry similar to that in England

Ms Kilpatrick said she spoke to four different medical professionals, before getting answers about what type of implants she had received.

She also said she had to wait more than two weeks during the Christmas period before she was given verbal confirmation of the brand from the Western Trust and then another six months before she was given written confirmation.

Registry appeal

"I had the ones that had been withdrawn from the market," she said.

Ms Kilpatrick said she believed a registry would identify what products could be used and what products were failing.

A breast implant register was launched in England in 2016 after faulty Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) silicone breast implants were recalled in 2010, affecting thousands of women.

'Easy to identify'

Ms Kilpatrick believes a registry here would help medical professionals know what products are "having problems".

"It would be easy to identify and process that data," Ms Kilpatrick said.

The Western Trust said it does not comment on individual cases, but said it uses an implant register, dating back 20 years, to record the type of implants given to patients.

It added that anyone who wants to find out what type of implant they have received should contact their consultant's secretary.

'It can vary'

But Stephen Sinclair, who is a specialist in reconstructive breast surgery at the Ulster Hospital, said a registry is something that is "absolutely needed" in Northern Ireland.

Mr Sinclair said the method in which patients can access information on their breast implants can vary from trust to trust.

"It can vary, we would tend to give each patient the details of their implant and we can keep a record of those details as well, but that won't happen everywhere.

"It certainly won't happen everywhere. And it certainly won't happen in those, what we call, high street cosmetic firms."

"I think an implant registry would ensure all details for all patients are recorded, he added.

Image caption A breast implant register launched in England in 2016 after faulty Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) silicone implants were recalled in 2010

In a statement, the Department of Health (DoH) said it was working with the provider of the breast implant registry in England to gain access to the registry for records of patients residing in Northern Ireland.

It said this was anticipated to be completed by April 2020.

BBC News NI has contacted Allergan for a statement, but has not yet received a response.

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