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by Aaron Leigh Horton/The Mesh Warrior – September 16, 2014
In some ways, hearing the Martha Salazar verdict against Boston Scientific last Monday, September 8, 2014 was not unlike the feeling I had upon watching the Twin Towers fall on September 11, 2001, now 13 years ago. I’ll never forget where I was, whom I was with, and that surge of confusing emotions I felt. Could this be happening; is this real? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The shock, confusion and depth of emotion, sent me to the floor crying in a heap both times, this time, as I fumbled for the phone to call my mother. I couldn’t think straight. I could not remember her number, as my husband looked on and tried to help, while I spoke in half sentences.
“The phone . . . Mom. . . Mom, where is . . . Why? Are we sure? Should I . . . Is it true?” I wasn’t making any sense. Finally, out comes, “No published reports yet; can I be sure? Yes I can be sure. I heard it from the mouths of people who were there- in the courtroom.” I can’t imagine the scene from my husband’s point of view. He uttered softly, “Just slow down, Baby. Slow down.” She won! She won!
“I have to call Mom, right now. It’s late.” I dial the number, her frail voice at the end of the other line. “Honey, what’s wrong?” Through the stops and starts of sobs, I say, “Mom, Martha won $72 million from Boston Scientific in her transvaginal mesh case.”
I am still crying, “Mom?” Maybe she didn’t hear me, I think. Then, the cry of something like an animal comes back through the line, and we stayed like that, just the two of us, weeping, for a long time.
“Mom, you matter.”
“You were right. It was the mesh. It is the mesh.”
“The whole world knows it now. They were wrong! They made transvaginal mesh and they knew it would hurt us, and it did.”
“I love you so much. I’m so, so sorry.”
More crying. Through broken syllables and something more primal than weeping, she says, “They stole my life. They stole my family. Nothing will ever be the same.”
“I know, Mom. I know. I love you. I’m sorry. This verdict can’t give us our lives back, but maybe it will help someone, somewhere, and you are part of the reason it will not hurt someone else.”
More primal groans claw into my heart as if I’m sitting next to her. I just keep repeating, “I love you. You matter. Your suffering matters. Your life matters. Our voices mattered.”
We sit and cry like that, mostly just being there for one another; happy for Martha; hopeful for our family and the others injured; confused about having good news that we can’t do anything with, except hold in our hopes.
After we both tire, and hang up the phone, I think “Will this be good news for everyone?” What about Ms. Linda Batiste, my friend, and a former plaintiff represented by the same firm against a different manufacturer? She was awarded a mere fraction by her jury of 12, and no punitive damages at all. Will this be good news for her? What about my friends who will never see their day in court? What about them?
I call another friend, a friend damaged so badly by the mesh, that she will die with it, all of it, inside her. Any attempt to remove it would put her life at such risk that no doctor can recommend removal be attempted in good conscience. We cry. We laugh. We live with it. We celebrate for Martha. We pray. We cry for some. We pray for others and for ourselves.
I will never forget September 8, 2014 — the day my mother was vindicated and held blameless by 12 strangers in Texas, for a crime she had NO PART IN. The walls came crashing down that day, not the walls of two towers that stood for American freedom, but countless walls across our nation, which stand for American justice.
The Salazar verdict is a landmark, groundbreaking and cause for celebration in our community, but it won’t make any injured person whole. It simply has the power to give the injured hope again and for some of us, their family members, we will also know hope again. At least I know a few for whom the possibility of justice will come alive, will feel within their grasp, for the first time since they were injured, some decades ago.
That means something, more important than words were made to describe. And as the saying goes, “They can’t take that away.”