"After surgery I went to rehab and had a home care nurse for 21 days; I recovered pretty fast and went back to work in September—I'm a subway station collector. Around Christmas I felt and barely heard a clunking, snapping and clicking in my hip and knew that wasn't right.
"In January, I went back to my orthopedic surgeon and described to him the symptoms, but judging from the x-rays, which I had every three months, the DePuy hip implant looked fine—it wasn't loose and hadn't shifted at all. He opined that it was a tendon 'twanging like a guitar string' against the implant, but I told him it wasn't that. I've had two back surgeries (I fractured and dislocated my hip when I was 12) and knew it was something mechanical. He just suggested physiotherapy and aqua fitness. I found a physiotherapist and my benefits covered me for 15 visits. I kept going after that and paid out of my own pocket.
"During that time my brother emailed me a LawyersandSettlements newsletter and that's when I found out about the DePuy recall—I knew about it before my doctors did! Then I figured, if this medical device had been recalled, someone in Canada would eventually file a lawsuit here. I also found , a Canadian law firm on the LawyersandSettlements site: in December 2010 Stevensons LLP, a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, launched a products liability class-action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. I contacted Colin Stevenson right away."
About two weeks after contacting his attorney, Andrew received a letter from his orthopedic surgeon, informing him of the DePuy recall, and they wanted to see him ASAP. His next appointment for a follow-up was scheduled in three months, but Andrew jumped the line. He also told the physiotherapist about the recall; she said there was no point in further treatment because a mechanical problem, i.e., a defective medical device, can't be fixed by physiotherapy.
"My surgeon isn't too chatty but he is one guy I trust," says Andrew. "I told him that I already knew about the recall from the Internet. 'Yes, I used that device on you but you will have to see my colleague for the revision surgery; it will take both of us to perform this replacement surgery,' he explained. I knew that I would be facing revision surgery because I can't live with this pain and noise, but I wasn't aware of metalosis."
(Metalosis occurs around metal implants as a result of corrosion or hypersensitivity reaction, and is often misdiagnosed as a low grade infection. Metalosis is believed to occur in DePuy hip patients due to high levels of cobalt and cadmium in the blood as a result of the wear and tear in these joints.)
"As it turns out, I have elevated cobalt steel ions in my bloodstream and it supposedly can cause a lot of problems," Andrew explains. "It can cause urinary and kidney problems and can even be fatal.
"I don't think the orthopedic surgeon believed me about the noises, but once he did the blood tests and found the elevated ions, he was convinced that I need the revision surgery. But the other surgeon I saw told me that if I didn't have elevated ions in my blood, I would just have to live with this pain! 'Could you live with this pain?' I asked him.
"Since my surgery, I've been taking morphine every day, it is part of my lifestyle. The only good news I've got in the last few months is that my surgery has been moved forward to May from September.
"Meanwhile, I'm not holding my breath that this class action will be settled soon, but I can also retain my attorney in a personal injury lawsuit if I am not satisfied with the settlement of the class, or if I want to get it done faster.
"As for DePuy, from the research I have done over the Internet, I believe they knew that their hip implant was defective but kept selling their product to make more profits. I also found out that this particular device was approved without the proper clinical trials. So now my life is on hold for the next few years.
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"My doctor told me they used this implant for three reasons: my age (I just turned 50), my size (I'm a large guy), and because my activity level is higher than someone older. And also because cobalt steel is supposed to last 20 years versus ceramic or plastic that is good for about 10-15 years. I'm going to get plastic this time round. I'm just praying that this revision will be the final one and I just have to stay positive.
"I know a helluva lot of people are going to be negatively affected by this, especially our friends in the US who can't afford medical insurance. I just hope DePuy settles soon."