'My breasts burst in the car' - Irish PIP victims speak out
Women with breast implants are being urged to come forward before a compensation deadline ends
An Irish woman who had breast enlargement surgery has told how the implant burst suddenly while she was driving her car.
The woman, from Co Louth, is one of thousands of Irish women who could be in line for compensation after having Polly Implant Prothese (PIP) breast implants.
The Louth woman, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the traumatic details of her case, said she believes her experience also played a part in the breakdown of her marriage.
She told the Sunday Independent: "I lost my confidence. I wouldn't get naked in front of my partner, I wouldn't take my bra off. I spent a very long time with only one breast as only the left breast ruptured - so I just had one out before getting it replaced again six months later. The same thing happened three more times, when the new implants kept rupturing. I couldn't get the implants out altogether as I would just be left with fleshy lumps of skin.
"On one occasion on my way to the hospital it burst in the car and began leaking all over me. It's hard to describe how bad an affect it had on me. I would urge all Irish women to get their implants checked to see if they are PIPs - and if they are, even if they had no problems, know that they are entitled to seek compensation too."
Stephanie Dolan (36) from Clondalkin in Dublin said: "Most women don't realise that they can still claim compensation - even if they haven't had any problems with their implants.
The young mother (pictured) told the Sunday Independent: "I had them a few years before I began having shooting pain in my left breast. I knew there was something wrong, I felt I had a lump and then when the scandal emerged I discovered they were PIPs and took out a credit union loan straight away to get them out."
Leading medical claims specialist Steve Hume says thousands of Irish women are affected and have yet to come forward.
The legal manager told the Sunday Independent: "There is a common misconception that only women who have experienced issues with their implants can make a claim. This isn't true. Every woman who has received PIP breast implants can receive justice."
Mr Hume, whose company Stanton Fisher is representing 900 Irish women, says fear is preventing others from pursuing cases as the March 27 deadline for compensation looms.
"They are obviously very traumatised and upset about what has happened. There is a lot of anxiety around it for them. I also think they may believe they have to travel to France and appear in court where the cases are heard - but this is not the case. They can keep their anonymity and a team of lawyers in France will look after their case for them, so they don't need to travel or appear in court and go through any more distress. With our own impending deadline this Friday, it is critical that victims contact a legal representative to allow time to process their claims."
The landmark legal action is the first of its type in France. In 2010 it emerged that PIP, a French firm which developed breast implants, was using industrial rather than medical silicone in its implants.
PIP went out of business in 2009. However, women can sue the German certification company TUV, which declared that the implants were safe.
Speaking about the types of cases he has come across Hume said: "You're talking about industrial grade silicone leaking into women's bodies and going into their lymph nodes, leaving them in incredible pain. We have heard from women who were breast-feeding and the implants burst and they couldn't feed their child naturally anymore, very distressing cases. I have seen pictures of the implants after they were removed and they are like a bowl of jelly."
Hume estimates that each claimant is in line to receive an average of between €10,000 and €15,000 each.