Sandra had the surgery when she was 50 years old, which is quite young for a knee replacement. She worked for a package delivery service that involved a lot of stairs and heavy lifting. Over the years, wear and tear took its toll.
“My orthopedic surgeon said I would gain more range of motion when I went back to work. He is partly correct, but it was never what it should be,” Sandra says. “This Smith & Nephew knee was always loose, to the point that I fell down in the kitchen and broke my femur…”
That was three years ago. Breaking her leg was a nightmare because Sandra couldn’t move her knee. “I had a rod in my leg and that took two months to heel. Consequently, my knee was frozen so I was back in surgery so I could get some range of motion to walk,” Sandra explains. “And knee surgery is so painful. They operated three times when I broke my femur because I have prolific scar tissue, which is due to my knee implant.”
Sandra endured six months of physical therapy, three days a week. She had to live with her mother for three months—she was in her late 70s-- because her house is wheelchair friendly. “I could sit in the shower, the toilets are high enough, and no stairs to climb,” she says. “I was in a wheelchair and then a walker for two months. And to top it all, I got an infection from the hospital during one of the surgeries…”
Actually, the infection was the penultimate. Sandra was going to have revision surgery but to really top things off, she was diagnosed with breast cancer (she is now cancer-free). Needless to say, she is done with hospitals and surgery.
Sandra had to retire from her job. Fortunately, she was able to collect long-term disability insurance right away.
“ I don’t know if this knee implant is the wrong model for me or if it is defective. This company has been making knees for years, but I do know that this model was new to the market,” Sandra says. “I did some research and discovered that this company has issued some recalls, so they don’t have a good track record.”
In early 2010, about 40,000 Smith & Nephew Uni Tibial Baseplate knee implants were recalled after complaints of the base plate breaking. A broken base plate could lead to instability and premature wear of the knee replacement, often requiring additional surgery to revise the knee replacement or change the base plate.
One year later, at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, a study was presented that found that 16 percent of the Smith & Nephew Journey-Deuce knee implants began failing after just 21 months, and 39 percent of those who received the implants reported poor results. In November of 2015 a recall was issued by the FDA; this time Smith & Nephew’s Genesis knee implant had a defective process design.
Sandra plans on getting the make and model number from her surgeon or the hospital, and if they aren’t forthcoming, an attorney can help. “My surgeon only told me the company name when I saw him before the surgery,” she adds. “The last time I saw him he thought the knee was a little bit loose and he could make the corrections with surgery, but they always say that. He never discussed why it is loose. And I am done with surgeries.
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I am frustrated and pissed off, it shouldn’t have happened this way. I am pissed off with the company and my surgeon who should have been more attentive because I should have had a total knee revision surgery before I broke my leg and before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was hoping for a favorable outcome, but hey, I’m a survivor.”
Sure, Sandra survived breast cancer. But survivors didn’t ask for a defective knee.