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Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler System Letter: Evidence, Explanation or Apology?

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Seattle, WAAlmost two years after heart bypass surgery Raymond received a letter in the mail. “It said they had used the Stockert 3T heater-cooler system machine during my initial surgery and that there had been problems attributed to that machine,” he says. The letter didn’t say how Raymond should proceed with a Stockert 3T complaint –but his attorney can.

Shortly after his first surgery Raymond says an infection was found near the wound and he was hospitalized again, this time for three additional surgeries. During one of the operations his liver and kidneys stopped functioning. “For several weeks I was given antibiotics (oral, intravenous, and via shots). I won’t testify in court that I was administered every anti-biotic ever developed, but I’m pretty sure I got a fair sampling,” Raymond says, laughing.

But contracting a life-threatening infection is no laughing matter, and that letter has caused mixed emotions for Raymond and his family. On the one hand, it explains how he managed to get a serious infection in the operating room—a supposed sterile environment. On the other hand, why did it take this long to tell him and worse, could the infection still be in his body, dormant? Raymond doesn’t quite know what to make of this letter. Does it explain why he has suffered so much since that first surgery? Is the hospital taking the blame?

After a few months recovering at home, Raymond thought he was on the mend. “I was beginning, I thought, to recover enough to start working again,” he says. He had come out of retirement to open a hamburger stand and was eager to get back to work.

“I felt pretty good until September of 2015. I started having breathing issues, which led me to get a stent in my heart. That set me back a few more weeks but I started getting back to work—slowly”

But Raymond began to have breathing problems so his wife started flipping burgers. His health got worse around Christmas time. “I seemed to develop some kind of autoimmune disorder that caused massive inflammation in just about every joint,” he explains. “We were referred to a local physician after having multiple other doctors try to figure it out. The new “family physician” started managing the inflammation with prednisone.

Fast forward to Easter. Raymond had trouble breathing again and his wife drove him to the hospital. He was having a heart attack due to a lack of red blood cells getting to my heart. Thank god his wife got him to the hospital in time.

“I have not recovered. I’m still taking prednisone every day, along with a handful of other prescriptions,” Raymond says. “I can move around for a few minutes at a time and I make a pretty badass shepherd’s pie. It just takes a lot longer than it used to.”

Obviously Raymond hasn’t lost his sense of humor but he has lost a considerable amount of income. And it is probable that the Stockert 3T device used during his first surgery is to blame for the infection. Raymond is in the process of getting his medical records together, including details of the infection. If he contracted M. chimaera , the NTM infection associated with the heater-cooler device, Raymond should file a complaint with an experienced attorney.

More than 250,000 heart bypass procedures using heater-cooler devices like the Stockert are performed in the US annually, and about 60 percent of such procedures using water-cooler devices have been associated with these infections. That’s 150,000 patients each year.


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