Paralysed Newport mum 'not given appropriate care'

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Gemma Mulcahy

A dance school owner fears she may never perform again after an operation to remove a vaginal mesh left her paralysed in one leg.

Gemma Mulcahy, of Newport, is currently paying for private rehabilitation - but says delays in being seen by a specialist is hampering her recovery.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board says it will investigate the mother-of-two's claims.

But Mrs Mulcahy fears the longer she remains in a wheelchair the more her leg muscles will waste away.

She said: "It's hard, it's very hard, to go from being so active and being completely fine before an operation to being left like this.

"Everything becomes more difficult, going on holiday was extremely difficult, everywhere we go getting the wheelchair in and out of the car, taking the kids to school, getting up in the morning, getting them ready for the school run, everything is so much harder than it was.

"We don't know if it's permanent, if it's something that could get better or if it's something that could completely heal and that's hard to deal with."

Image caption,
Gemma (left) and twin sister Philippa started dancing from an early age - and became professional dancers as well as models

Mrs Mulcahy, who set up Fantasy Feet dance school in Merthyr Tydfil in 2006 after being a professional dancer at Disneyland resorts in Paris and Tokyo, paid for private surgery in July to have vaginal mesh removed.

However, the removal went wrong and left her numb in her left leg from the hip down.

"It's affected my career, my ability to teach as well as the ability to look after my two children," she added.

Image caption,
Vaginal mesh has come under criticism, with many patients experiencing problems

She has since been transferred to the NHS for treatment, and hopes to be referred to specialists at Rookwood in Cardiff to speed up her recovery.

Rookwood Hospital - which is operated by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board - is one of only 12 spinal rehab units in the UK and is also a regional neuro-rehabilitation hospital as well.

Mrs Mulcahy said: "There's still no diagnosis for what has happened, which is worrying. And I'm not clearer as to when I will be seen by a specialist.

"I'm currently paying for private rehab - which is costing around £300 a week. However, all that is doing is stopping me from deteriorating further.

"The sooner I get to Rookwood to be assessed and we get a definitive diagnosis to what's actually wrong, then I can start getting specialised treatment."

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: "We're sorry to hear that Ms Mulcahy has concerns about the care she has received. We would ask that she makes contact with us directly so we can look into her claims."