It began with an orange bag and ended in health authorities around the world pledging to look at the way medical devices are regulated.
The Implant Files investigation we were involved with has taken months of work but has already had an impact which will we hope last long into the future.
Since spring we have been exploring the world of medical devices – working as part of an international team coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
We have ploughed through pages and pages of court documents and data released through freedom of information requests – spoken to surgeons and specialists around the world, and heard – often heartbreaking – stories from those who have suffered when things have gone wrong.
The project was the latest in a long line of collaborations that the Guardian has worked on with ICIJ – a group that brings together media organisations around the world.
This time more than 250 journalists from 58 news organisations were involved – including the BBC and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in this country and Le Monde – Canada’s Toronto Star and the Associated Press in America.
Unlike the most recent ICIJ investigations the Implant Files did not involve a leak of information – instead it started with a pitch from a Dutch journalist Jet Schouten – who four years ago made a documentary revealing how easy it was to get a medical device approved.
Armed with an empty mandarin net from a supermarket and a file of made-up data she was able to impress the organisations that approve devices almost to the point of gaining approval to sell the net as vaginal mesh.
Following the Guardian’s award-winning stories about the problems caused by mesh – joining in with the collaboration was an easy decision.
Those stories had exposed some of the problems with the system and this gave the chance to look at the wider industry.