lifestyle

Women’s arm paralysed after contraceptive implant got stuck too deep to remove


It has been a year and no movement has returned to Danielle’s arm (Picture: SWNS)

A woman has lost the use of her arm after her contraceptive implant got stuck so deep doctors can’t get it out.

Danielle Jarrett, 24, got the tiny plastic rod – called nexplanon – put in her arm three years ago and suffered no problems until she went to get it replaced.

But when her GP couldn’t removed the 4cm implant, she was sent to a specialist – who also couldn’t get to it.

It had sunk so deep into her arm that even a further two-hour operation saw surgeons abandon their efforts to get it out.

Her arm went ‘numb’ and floppy after the operation, and despite reassurances that it would be OK, the feeling never came back.

Surgeons had to abandon a two-hour attempt to remove the implant (Picture: Danielle Jarrett/SWNS)

Danielle visited her local A&E and was told she had suffered nerve damage but would regain movement after 12 weeks with regular physio appointments. But one year on from the operation, she hasn’t regained any movement or feeling in her left arm, which she can’t use at all.

The insurance worker from Dartford, Kent, has been forced to rely on her mum Alison, 53, to cut up her food, wash her hair and help her get dressed.

‘It’s ruined my life,’ she says.

‘I don’t wish to be dramatic but it kind of has. I’ve completely lost my left arm; I can’t use it, I can’t feel it, nothing. I have a disability now but you wouldn’t think to look at me.

‘I really took for granted what I could do before. Now I can’t use a knife and fork. I have to get someone else to cut up my food.’

As well as being unable to wash her hair, simple tasks like using a zip or putting on her bra, are impossible for Danielle.

Now, Danielle struggles to cut up her food or wash her hair (Picture: Danielle Jarrett/SWNS)

‘It’s just really changed my life when I was doing something responsible,’ she says.

‘I’m worried now that when I go out shopping and I’m taking a long time at the till people are going to be getting annoyed with me.

‘I don’t know what this is doing to my body or whether or not I’m able to have kids. I just really regret it.’

The contraceptive implant is a small flexible plastic rod that’s placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse.

It releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy and lasts for three years.

The NHS says this form of contraception is more than 99% effective, and it can be useful for women who can’t use contraception that contains oestrogen. However, there are some risks.

A common side effect is that your periods stop (amenorrhoea). This isn’t harmful, but you may want to consider this before deciding to have an implant. Also, it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections.

What happened to Danielle is incredibly rare, but there is a small risk that the area of skin where the implant has been fitted can become infected. If this happens, you may need antibiotics. You should always talk to your GP about your contraception options.

Danielle with partner Adam Casey at their home in Dartford (Picture: James Linsell-Clark/SWNS)

Danielle visited her GP in May 2019 to the implant removed but was told it had sunk too deep into her arm and would need to see a specialist.

She was referred to a sexual health clinic to have it removed but again, was told it was too deep and had to be booked in for a hospital operation in January 2020.

After two hours of attempting to remove the implant, doctors told Danielle they would have to leave the implant inside her left arm as it was impossible to get out.

She was eventually sent to the hospital for an operation to remove it, which she says was her ‘worst nightmare’.

‘I went along with it but they were digging around and trying to get it out for two hours but still couldn’t get to it,’ she says.

‘I was sent home in a sling but when I was going home I realised I couldn’t feel my ring finger. Then it started to get worse.

‘I really don’t know how to describe it. It was exactly like that scene in Harry Potter when his bones are taken out of his arm and it’s all floppy. That’s what my arm was doing but I thought it would wear off.

‘I went to bed and thought all would be better in the morning. But when I woke up I just couldn’t feel my forearm and was unable to move my hand apart from the little finger.

‘No one really knows what has happened or taken any responsibility. It would just be nice to know what has gone wrong.’

For the past year, Danielle has been adjusting to living to life with the use of just her right hand.

‘I would love to be able to do everything for myself again. It’s not a case of me being lazy or not wanting to do it,’ she says.

‘I would just really hate to see anyone else go what I’m going through’ (Picture: Danielle Jarrett/SWNS)

‘If it was my right-arm I would be completely screwed as I’m right-handed.’

Danielle underwent an MRI scan last year to monitor the effect the overdue implant is having on her body, but the lasting damage and whether her fertility has been affected is unclear.

Doctors have been unable to figure out why the implant sunk so deep, but Danielle believes it was not inserted properly, having already had an implant inserted and taken out three years earlier.

‘It’s one of those things you don’t really think about,’ she says.

‘I’ve had friends of friends hear about what’s happened to me and it’s put them off. I would just really hate to see anyone else go what I’m going through.

‘Everything just is a real struggle. I used to volunteer at an animal rescue centre, but I’m unable to do that as I don’t have the use of two arms.

‘I’m not pointing blame at the hospital, but if someone had told me this could happen, I wouldn’t have had the implant.

‘The doctors thought thought this was temporary but nothing is getting any better. They’ve been hinting this will be something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

‘It’s just devastating.’

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