Advising with empathy and experience

Woman's suicide after surgery.

A woman treated by one of Britain's best-known surgeons killed herself after the doctor, who is under investigation by the NHS, removed her ovaries during an operation because "they were getting in the way.” 

The surgeon, Anthony Dixon, who built up an international reputation for using mesh to fix bowel problems, saw Lucinda Methuen-Campbell, 58, at a private hospital in 2016 for a bowel disorder. 

Dr Dixon, who has been suspended from two hospitals in Bristol, allegedly told Mrs Methuen-Campbell that he removed her ovaries during the surgery "because they were in the way.”  

Mrs Methuen-Campbell had a vaginal mesh implant inserted to help with a bowel disorder but it left her in agony. She was later found hanged in her attic after telling her former partner that “there didn't seem to be a way out of the pain."

Her ex-partner, sculptor, Philip Chatfield, said: "The pain continued to get worse and nobody seemed able to solve the problem. Mr Dixon performed the operation in 2016 with the mesh but it was unsuccessful and caused her to be in agony. She had a follow-up operation which made things even worse."

The couple first met when Mrs Methuen-Campbell modelled for him. The couple later went on to have a son, Angus, 19.

In an interview after the operation, Mrs Methuen-Campbell claimed she had not consented to her ovaries being removed during consultations at The Spire Hospital, Bristol.

She said that the removal was never mentioned before the surgery. If it had, she would have been "vaguely prepared.”

She said at the time: "He said he thought he'd done me a favour. And he said: 'I thought you know, a woman of your age wouldn't really need her ovaries.'

"I said 'Why did you remove them?' and he just said 'They were in the way'."

In January 2018, Angus called his father after discovering the attic ladder down and the hatch open.

Mr Chatfield found Mrs Methuen-Campbell hanged in the attic of her home in the village of Three Crosses, near Swansea. Nearby, a message from Mrs Methuen-Campbell to her son read: "I'm sorry Angus, I love you, best son ever.”

Swansea assistant coroner, Aled Gruffydd, said: "The operation on Mrs Methuen-Campbell was unsuccessful and made her pain worse and it affected her mental health."

Recording a suicide verdict, he said: “The pain she was in led to her taking her own life."

Speaking after the inquest, her son said: "She was in a great deal of pain after the operations and she was very upset that her ovaries had been removed."

Mr Dixon built up an international reputation for using mesh rectopexy to fix bowel problems, often caused by childbirth, but is currently suspended from performing this surgery at two hospitals in Bristol.

The General Medical Council (GMC) also temporarily stopped him from performing another form of corrective surgery, stapled transanal resection of the rectum, known as a Starr.

The NHS has now also referred him to the GMC over mesh procedures.

North Bristol NHS Trust is investigating the consultant, who worked at Southmead Hospital and at the private Spire Hospital in Bristol.

In recent years vaginal mesh implants have become controversial and many women have reported negative side effects. 

The permanent implants are medical devices used by surgeons to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence in women, conditions that can commonly occur after childbirth.

Some women have reported severe and constant abdominal and vaginal pain following the surgery.

Other women have experienced infections and bleeding, while many have said their original incontinence symptoms have not been improved by the surgery.