A note from Angie Firmalino, founder of Essure Problems and ASHES nonprofit:
Advocating Safety in Healthcare E-Sisters (ASHES) is a nonprofit organization I founded in 2015. The organization is run by a board of directors, who have been advocating and raising awareness regarding the dangers of a permanent birth control device called Essure. We help administer Essure Problems, a growing Facebook group with over 38,000 members, mostly consisting of women harmed by Essure. For seven years we have helped educate women concerning the potential risks associated with the device. We have also assisted thousands of women by providing emotional support, educational files and graphics, helping injured women finding competent doctors, and sharing detailed and updated information about proper Essure removal provided to us by physicians, in order to prevent women from suffering catastrophic botched surgeries. We have even been there on many occasions to talk women down from suicidal ideations, either by messenger or direct contact on the phone. My admin team and I have volunteered countless hours, days, months, and years, and have been 100% dedicated to this group and our fight to get Essure off the market.
After several years of running the Facebook group and being advocates for the women who experienced complications from the Essure procedure, we realized there was a dire need for proper and complete education and information regarding many medical devices. However, this urgent need involves raising funds to continue our fight. Up to this point, all of our advocacy work has been paid for out of our own pockets, which was becoming a huge burden for many of us. From that need, ASHES was born.
ASHES nonprofit exists to educate and inform women and men regarding the potential dangers of medical devices and the importance of researching as well as HOW to research, any medical device recommended by their physician. It also provides instruction on how to advocate on behalf of those harmed by medical devices. ASHES also fights to raise awareness about the pitfalls of our FDA’s medical device approval processes and post market surveillance, and to help bring about much needed changes to these practices. ASHES was instrumental in getting three bills introduced in Congress regarding Essure and other medical devices covered by PMA, and Medical Device Safety.
ASHES relies solely on donations to the nonprofit to fund advocacy trips, rallies, events, and lobbying efforts. While we do not allocate funds to any individuals harmed by devices directly, we use funding for educational materials, travel costs, rally supplies, mailings, operational costs, etc. The goal is to PREVENT others from suffering the same devastating harm that each of us has experienced personally from a medical device, and to fight for the rights of those who have been harmed.
Our current focus is on The Medical Device Safety Act of 2017, a bill currently in Congress, which if passed, will restore a patient’s right to litigation if harmed by a Class III medical device. ASHES members will also be working with other advocacy groups to get a bill introduced in Congress, which will revise the 510K process of medical device approval.
In July 2018, after seven long years of fighting, we achieved a thrilling victory. Days after our protest outside Bayer’s corporate headquarters, and one week before the release of The Bleeding Edge, Bayer announced they will withdraw Essure from the U.S. market. But the fight continues to help those already harmed by the device and to prevent future harm from other unsafe devices.
Donations to our nonprofit will help us continue our efforts in Congress to fight for changes to the FDA’s outdated and corrupt system of device approval. They also assist us in continuing to spread awareness through social media, websites, and allow us to continue to host rallies, protests, and patient engagement events.
If you would like to help ASHES by making a donation, please go to our website.
If you would like to support The Medical Device Safety Act, please do so here.
ASHES Board of Directors:
Angie Firmalino, President
Amanda Dykeman, Vice President
Angela Desa Lynch, Communications Director
Sarah Carlin, Treasurer
Amanda Rusmisell, Secretary
Lisa Saenz, Development Coordinator
Holly Ennis, Attorney
Kim Myers, Member At Large