Hundreds of Australian women whose breast implants caused cancer and other serious illnesses are preparing for a legal battle and taking on a pharmaceutical giant.
A class action lawsuit has been launched against Allergan, four years after the manufacturer issued the recall due to a link between the implants and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a cancer of the lymphatic system .
Shine Lawyers wants to hear from women who have developed cancer from implants, who are symptomatic, who have had their implants removed and left in their pocket after having the explants.
Among them is Queensland mother-of-three Sarah*, who withdrew her superannuation to undergo an explant three years ago.
She is now seeking compensation from Allergan for the thousands of dollars spent removing the implants and the pain caused, which left her fearing she would die.
Sarah (pictured with breast implants) has joined a class action against pharmaceutical giant Allergan
Sarah (pictured before having implants in 2013) wanted to feel more feminine
Sarah decided to get breast implants in 2013, a life lesson she regrets today.
“I was flat-chested after breastfeeding three children. I couldn’t even wear a bra,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“I was healthy, exercised daily, and loved life, but I wanted to feel more feminine. And I felt really good after receiving them.
Sarah began to feel tired and exhausted and gradually noticed other strange symptoms such as painful joints, hair loss and a yellow tint to her eyes.
“I didn’t think about it at the time and attributed the fatigue to having young children,” she said.
He was diagnosed with pericarditis, swelling and irritation of the tissues surrounding the heart.
“I had fluid around my heart. I suffered from painful UTIs, constant headaches, stomach pain, brain fog and all my joints hurt,” she said.
“I would have night sweats and wake up in a pool of sweat.”
“It has impacted every aspect of my life, including my business. I couldn’t enjoy everything I wanted with my three daughters. I couldn’t even lift and pick up my youngest.
Sarah began researching implants in 2019 after learning of the recall as her health deteriorated.
“The Christmas before I had my implants removed, I thought I was going to die,” she said.
“We were at home at the time. I was so sick that we had the doctors come in at night to give me medicine.
Sarah withdrew from her pension to fund her explants (photo after procedure)
Sarah says it took six months to recover from the explants in 2020 (photo after procedure)
The following Allergan products are part of the Shine Lawyers claim
· Natrelle Salene breast implants;
· Natrelle highly cohesive anatomically shaped silicone filling;
· Textured biocell breast implants filled with McGhan biodimensional silicone;
· Natrelle Inspira silicone-filled breast implants;
· Silicone-filled Natrelle tissue expander;
· McGhan magna-site fabric;
· McGhan crescent-shaped tissue expander
Sarah had her implants removed in 2020.
Looking back on the heartbreaking ordeal, she said it could have been much worse and considers herself one of the lucky ones not to have been diagnosed with cancer.
“The day I had the explants, my little girl ran up to me and asked if I could finally lift her; “Still not being able to hold my baby made me very sad,” she said.
“It took six months to fully recover from the explants, but I was able to run and exercise again.”
“I’ve been to hell and back, which is priceless, but I’m so grateful to see my girls grow up.”
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Allergan for comment.
At the time of the 2019 recall, at least five Australian and New Zealand women had died from breast implant-associated ALCL (BIA).
Another 100 Australian women have been diagnosed with ALCL (BIA), including mother-of-five AnneMarie Sage Wood.
Shame and embarrassment kept her from seeking medical attention when she first noticed something was wrong with her breast implants.
“I had them evaluated, but was told the fluid was benign and that I had developed capsular contracture – the most common complication with implants,” she recalled in an opinion article in the Brisbane Times in 2019.
AnneMarie Sage Wood (pictured) was diagnosed with BIA-ALCL in 2018
In 2018, she finally acted on her feelings and had the implants removed.
That’s when she received the shocking news: she had been diagnosed with ALCL cancer.
“I was completely in shock. I imagined the worst case scenario, that I was going to say goodbye to my family and die,” recalls AnneMarie.
“I wish I had known more about the symptoms and risks associated with my breast implants – I was not informed or educated.”
Julie Luezzi, a mother of two children, then aged 40, received Allergan “Biocell” implants in 2002.
She died 11 years later, three months after being diagnosed with ALCL cancer.
“How could I tell my children (that) not only do they have to deal with what is happening to their mother, but that she is actually the cause?” Ms. Luezzi wrote following her diagnosis.
“It was by far the worst thing that happened.”
Julie Luezzi died in 2013, several months after being diagnosed with BIA-ALCL
Mrs. Luezzi didn’t want her sons to know why she died, a secret that was kept from them for five years
“It was his last wish,” Julie’s sister, Donna Ohlsen, later told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I kept that promise for five years, and I think that’s long enough. She would understand why.
It is reported that one in 2,500 to 3,000 women with these implants will develop lymphatic cancer.
Many cases develop 7 to 8 years after implants are inserted, according to Shine Lawyers.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL cancer include sudden swelling (due to fluid buildup around the implant) or pain in the breast or armpit, and sometimes a lump or rash.
“Some women will have scarring and disfigurement as a result of implant removal surgery and others will suffer health complications for the rest of their lives,” Vicky Antzoulatos, co-leader of class actions at Shine Lawyers.
“It is horrific that a product like this could be put on the market and expose women to such serious risks. These implants were also used for breast reconstruction surgery on women already cured of breast cancer, which added another layer of illness, fear and medical expenses.
Visit Shine Lawyers to find out more about the Allergan class action or email email@example.com.