Laurie has never been able to do what her orthopedic surgeon said she could do with the DePuy knee replacement—she won't ever play tennis again; she can't even ride a bicycle. "I can't make a full revolution; my knee will splay out to the side while I'm pedaling," she complains, "and going downstairs is a joke; most of the time I have to hold the railing because I can't do a full flex.
"I was a hardcore runner for 30 years and I was 57 when I went to an orthopedic surgeon the first time; he was the expert on a procedure where they grow your cartilage in the lab and inject it back into your joint. Unfortunately my knees were too far gone—I wasn't a candidate—so my only option was knee replacements. Reluctantly I had the surgery on one knee because my surgeon said I was too young for both knees; in hindsight I thank my lucky stars he only did one knee. It was the worst surgery I've ever had and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Fortunately I was in good physical shape; I was able to get up and walk around and I didn't need rehab."
But the pain and inflammation didn't go away as time went on. Laurie saw her surgeon for the yearly follow-up and complained about the inflammation and limited range of motion, but according to Laurie, "he more or less blew it off." By the second year, her knee was worse—more inflammation and pain and continued inability to move. She had to quit her job at the hospital; standing on her feet for any length of time was out of the question.
"Several times I tried to reach my surgeon, to no avail," Laurie says. "I'm beginning to wonder what the hell is going on here—I think he was intentionally avoiding me because the device had failed or there could be medical malpractice…I knew something was wrong with my knee but it didn't cross my mind that something was wrong with the device; at that time I wasn't aware of so many people having problems with hip and knee replacements.
"I eventually got an appointment with my surgeon's assistant, who said that I just needed more physical therapy or I could get a cortisone shot. This wasn't right…Towards the end of 2009 I found another surgeon who took a lot of fluid out of my knee and checked for infection. My white blood cell count was really high which usually indicates infection. I had bone tests and MRIs…
"I ended up going to another surgeon around the beginning of 2010; this time they found debris in the fluid, obviously from the device. He suggested knee revision surgery, and if there was infection, the entire knee would have to be replaced. He said it was likely that one part of the device would have to be replaced—I told him that I would go home and think about it.
"I went to New England Baptist Hospital—it is supposed to be 'Number One' with hip and knee replacements and I'm on my fourth surgeon. This surgeon said the part was loose, which was causing abrasion. So the device wasn't in there properly—that made sense to me. I mentioned defective parts and he said it was a possibility and it was also possible that the device wasn't the correct size.
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"So I'm going to wake from this revision surgery on September 2 and ask what happened when I wake up—not a pleasant thought.
"As for a defective device or personal injury claim, I'm over the three-year statute of limitations regarding defective devices, so I don't know what I can do about a lawsuit—I wish these surgeons hadn't made me wait for so long. But I contacted an attorney anyway.
"My attorney told me to make sure I have it in writing—before my revision surgery—that any parts I have removed, including any tissue and fluid, must be stored in case the lawyers need to test it. And all the knee replacement parts belong to me. I get to go home with the defective bits."