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Patient Facing Hip Revision Surgery Joins DePuy Canada Class Action

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Toronto, ONAndrew's orthopedic surgeon recently confirmed that he was given a defective DePuy hip replacement in May of 2009, which explains why Andrew has been in chronic pain ever since. "The pain now is worse than before my surgery," says Andrew," and to make matters worse, I have elevated cobalt steel ions in my bloodstream from this DePuy ASR and that can cause more problems."

"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.

"But at the same time, I do feel fortunate. If I lived in the US I would be busted by now. I am losing $350 per week from being out of work and that's a lot for me to lose. At least I am not destitute; I have a good union and I'm able to dip into my line of credit. I just hope they use the right parts this time!

"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."

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I just read the comments from Andrew about his difficulties with the Depuy hip replacement. I share the same sentiments. My left hip replacement was done in April 2009. Things seemed to go fairly well for quite a while, however over a year ago, I noticed a change. I had chronic discomfort and increasing difficulty walking. I assumed that this was due to the fact that I was overweight and that there was additional strain on my lower back. It went from bad to worse. One year ago, I was shifting from side to side in an attempt to move forward. I could only walk the distance of about five houses down the street at which time I had to turn around. Travelling became difficult. I was in chronic pain by now and realized that things were not right. Once in a while, I would hear a clicking in my hip, but I was assured by the surgeon that this would go away eventually. My biggest concern was that the quality of my life had changed dramatically. I enjoyed downhill skiing in the past, walking, cycling and swimming. Now I could only swim, which I did on a regular basis. My body weight increased and my morale took a dip. I decided that I would see my Surgeon again and in the meanwhile received a letter from the lawyers. They suggested that I check back with health records to find out what device was used. Sure enough, it was the one! I contacted my Surgeon and he requested that I come in. Ultrasound, blood work and xrays were done. I was concerned about the many series of xrays that had been done on my hips and abdomen over a few years. Radiation is cumulative and that was a concern to me as well. I was not told whether cobalt and chromium levels were checked. I was asked to return in a few months to see if there would be any changes. My pain was steady, and worse sometimes. A decision was made for left hip revision surgery. I had that done January 7/2013. I work part time because I did retire a number of years ago. This is necessary to meet my financial obligations. I am losing the income. I do not qualify for UI because I am short by 10 hrs! In the meanwhile, I am recuperating at home following two weeks of rehabilitation. I do physio three times per week. I am walking with a cane and things are going well. There is minimal discomfort and my walking has definitely improved. I am still stressed over the lack of income and would like to return to work asap. I wait patiently to hear about the results of the DePuy Canada claim. I wonder how long it will take before I see any kind of reimbursement for the pain and suffering I have experienced. I know that my device is in safe keeping at the forensic lab and that the Lawyers will look after the matter.
I wish everyone involved, the best of luck. I know how a very difficult journey this is. This is my third hip surgery.

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