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Knee Replacement Patient Almost Became Amputee

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Orlando, FLSteve’s story of his multiple knee replacements is nothing short of a living nightmare.

The risk of infection from knee replacement surgery is relatively rare--less than one percent. However, about 600,000 knee replacements are performed in the US each year on patients whose knees have been severely damaged by arthritis or injury (according to the Cleveland Clinic) so Steve is one of about 6,000 patients who wind up with an infection--and his was bad beyond belief. And that is a conservative estimate: People who undergo revision surgery have an even higher risk of developing infection.

Although Steve contracted infections in hospital, he believes the culprit is the knee replacement itself, in his case the Stryker Triathlon replacement.

Photo: Steve (right) and his father on Father's Day.

Right from the get-go, Steve, age 58, says his knee replacement implant failed. “It grinded and felt like it had sand in it and it made a “clicking” sound, it was locking up and it was painful,” he says.

That was in 2008. By November 2012 he had undergone multiple surgeries. The infections never cleared up and he came within days of having his leg amputated.

“Although my Stryker knee started grinding instantly it took 15 months for my surgeon to agree that something was seriously wrong,” says Steve. “He took out all the plastic parts and tried to readjust the device, to no avail.” Instead, Steve wound up with a staph infection??"and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Steve is a big guy, and he’s tough. But by his own admission, he was crying his “brains out every night”.

In early 2010 the same surgeon at the same hospital scraped out all the infection from his knee, but he got another infection. This time it was MRSA--the term for Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. “Obviously I picked up both infections at the hospital but I think it has to do with my knee device,” says Steve, “and from my research I found some claims against Stryker regarding unsanitary knee replacements."

Steve was pumped full of antibiotics for almost four months??"he was that sick. By May his surgeon gave up and handed him to a “super surgeon” in Orlando who told Steve that the titanium in his knee absorbs the MRSA cells. His plan was to remove Steve’s entire knee and implant a concrete spacer to keep his tendons and ligaments the same length.

“In September my blood samples indicated that I was supposedly healed so I had a revision surgery, this time with a DePuy knee replacement, which I now have in the closet,” Steve says, laughing. “Things were going along fine and I started a new job in April 2011. It was my first day of work and by lunch time my knee was extremely sore. I am a cost estimator for big equipment and utilities so I have to fly into job sites and it involves a lot of walking??"I need my knees. But I couldn’t even walk to my car so I had to quit my job that same day.”

Next day Steve was back in Dr. George Haidukewych’s office??"an orthopedic surgeon internationally recognized for joint replacement surgery and trauma. “He could tell by looking at me that my infection was back,” adds Steve.

“He took my knee back out, just three weeks after I had the DePuy, and put in another spacer. In June 2011 I had another operation and stayed in hospital two more weeks, then back to the nursing home for a few months. By this time I had to give up my cat because I was never home. I live in a two-storey house alone and I could barely get up the 17 steps. It wasn’t pretty.

"In February 2012 they put another spacer in and by this time my insurance had run out. I didn’t have COBRA so I went home without therapy. The infection was under control but I still had the PIC line in. Antibiotics were costing $2,100 a week??"thank god I had a good insurance policy. In the last four years insurance has paid out over $3 million.

"My insurance agent’s comment--Whoa!

Around May 2012 the infection was still bad and my surgeon said there was nothing else he could do but amputate six inches above my right knee. I even met with all the prosthetic people and had measurements taken??"I was crying my brains out every night.”

Take this part of Steve’s story with a grain of salt, but Steve is a sensible, sane man and he swears that this “machine” saved his leg.

“At the end of May I was online checking out people’s amputation stories. I stumbled across a site where an inventor in Arizona guarantees to get rid of MRSA. He sounded legitimate and at this point I was willing to grasp at anything. For $1,000 he would send me a machine called ‘Aquatonic’ to cure my infection.

"It is an electronic zapper that you plug into a wall while you sit in a tub full of water. At first I was a little apprehensive, to say the least. I put ½ lb of salt into the bath water for conductivity and I had a little wand that I held above my leg where it was most painful. I flipped the switch…It was like a sharp sting, like sticking your finger in a light socket. I used it one hour a day for seven days and hoped for the best.”

Steve’s amputation was scheduled for June 5, his daughter’s birthday. He couldn’t have it done on that date so rescheduled for the following week. And he asked for one more blood test.

“My surgeon couldn’t believe the results??"I was completely healed,” says Steve. “Now I had tears of relief. I never told my doctor about the machine??"he would probably think I was nuts but whatever you do to save your leg isn’t that crazy. My blood work has been perfect ever since. And I have had tests weekly, up until November 2012.

"Now I just want to sue Stryker to get missed wages??"I was out of work for two years. And I am angry at the surgeons for implanting defective devices. We trust our doctors as gods almost, we trust them implicitly. I found out afterward that they both are representatives of these medical device manufacturers. My first surgeon got paid $65,000 per year from Stryker and my second surgeon was a paid employee of DePuy??"it says as much on his website. He got $90,000 from DePuy last year.

"I’m not a greedy person, I just want what is due to me and I need to get help fast. My statute of limitations is coming up this year so I just want to find a lawyer to represent me.”

Steve is in possession of the original Stryker and DuPuy knee replacements and he has all operative reports and other records from the hospitals.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
My dad is possibly facing an amputation from an infection from a knee replacement. How do I make contact with this aquatonic guy or where can I find more information about the treatment

Posted by

on
Hi this Leslie Michalec again thanks for printing my letter.i have one question l would like to ask you I do not know if I have a legal case or not how can someone sue if your body see it as forked object and just want to get rid of it.iwould like answer back thank-you.

Posted by

on
Hi my nane is Leslie Michalec I am 58 years old i had my first knee replacement in May of 1998 right knee then in May of 1999 they had take ou the first knee and put in a second knee because of infection.over the next 14 years I had four total knee replacements because of they giving very bad bone infections I am a very active person and when I was not in the hospital I went along and did my normal things as best as possible I was on a twice daily antibiotics all they were doing I was told was it to keep the infection from spreading. Then in September the 5 2012 they had to amputate above the knee because the infection was turning my leg black in places.it took 7 months for the infection to show up each time. They say having your knee replace will make you a new person it sure did it made me an amputee I like my fake leg I can go back to my active life style and all that.but I never dream I would end up an amputee when every one else can have knee replacements and they turn out just fine.well thank taking the time to read this letter

Posted by

on
I went through the same things that steve went through, I had about 4 surgeries before i was able in 05/18/2015 to get my new knee in and now after almost a year later I still am having trouble getting up without my leg hurting me but my problem is getting an attorney to take my case thought i had one but it was about the blair hugger and we can not prove they gave me that or not but any way it looks like this dr is going to get away with his actions so good luck everyone\

Posted by

on
It breaks my heart to read all of your stories, as I have seen first hand the pain sleepless nights and the financial hardship it puts on you and your family.
My husband had total knee replacement on the right leg in Seattle and it went great!
Then we went to Alaska he went to the doctor because he was hurting and there was a draining of tan liquid coming out of a spot in the lower righ leg. ( from a motorcycle accident from1985. Any way the swab test showed infection. November 2013, Then three weeks later 12-26-2013 they go through with total knee replacement on left leg. By January he is hurting really bad and the leg is swollen and redish he calls his doctor and it seems insurance paid 35,000 balance was$2000
The wouldn't see him unless he made a payment and we were brok e. Finally he goes to er, it is bad infection. He goes in and call newmeraous times be told each time no money no see doctor. Finally he barrow money from ex boss and make payments and they let him see doctor and he is told his infection is so bad he couldn't help him and sent him to Seattle when seen in Seattle the new doctor said that they should of never put the knee in...
It was back to surgery take knee out, pic line antibiotics for three months.he was doing good and then he wrongfully was arrested his leg was hurting small scratch like spot red, he requested medical attion and even filled out the grievance forms still denied then a week later it is so bad
The jailers and doctor go back in front of a judge and they descuess infection spread to other inmates. Then they talk about the cost of the medical and they decide they are not paying his medical it would put a big larg financial strain on them so they released him out back door to walk home. The next day he is admitted to hospital they do many operating oleft knee and on right leg they went in and scraped the bone many times tring to get all the infection, he was so close to loosen his life and legs and now due to all that he can never again do the work he did, he hurts24-7 and can not walk any without lots pain.
Two years out of work, and as now give him $600 a month to live on..
We are so deep in debt. Living in car or at his parent's.
Please we need help, and we need a lawyer to take his case , maybe two big cases doctor and the jail..
We don't know what to do .he will never be the same, never be pain free. And for about two months he can hardly stand due to new bad pain.
Please help us

Posted by

on
Apparently even if you are not allergic to nickel you can become allergic to it merely by exposure.
Lots of people thought that stainless steel was a
good idea for jewelry and watch backs, but the
nickel in it can easily create a nickel allergy
where there was none.
The body piercing people are acutely aware of
this.

I did metal fabrication with several grades of
stainless steel and was around people welding
it.
When they weld stainless steel, lots of it gets
vaporized and inhaled as particulate dist.
Knowing that the body piercing people were
reporting a lot of nickel allergies were acquired
from exposure to nickel and stainless
(part nickel) jewelry, I wondered what would
happen to people breathing in.
The welders I was around saw themselves
as modern version of cowboys, heavy drinkers,
heavy smokers, drugs and often the boots and hat.
It might be hard to spot the damage in them
because of their other habits.
But wouldn't you suspect that breathing in
particulates from welding and vaporizing
the nickel in stainless steel would cause
an allergic reaction from the inside out?

I like stainless steel but I would not want it
on or in my body, nor to breath in vaporized
stainless steel.

I was fascinated by the statement that titanium
could absorb or harbor MRSA.
Could implants be removed to sterilize them
with high does radiation (like food sterilization),
heat or chemicals like isopropanol or bleach
and then put back in after the person is cleared
of it?

Posted by

on
we must advertise that TKR is hazardous or dangerous.

Posted by

on
I started with tibial fracture with internal fixation at age 21 due to MVA. After countless 5-8? Arthroscopies, I had a uni-lateralTKA. This was not done correctly. Due to errors by M.D. I had 4-5 stress fx. In tibia due to walking? Or as the M.D. Tried to convince me, I had osteoporosis?! We'll 2nd opinion states leg was crooked. An osteotomy to break and realine leg did not help much! Pain still in Joint led to discovery of implant not glued in or surface roughened at all. This led to 1st revision with total knee. Still pain in joint so 2nd revision & found imants loose. Then 5-6 years later spinal infection months on antibiotics. 2 years later joint infection with resultant antibiotic beads & blocks with more IV antibiotics via PICC, threw pulmonary embolism x3 due to PICC. Put in 3rd revision. 10 years later 4th and 5 th knee revisions due to loosening implants with infections. Bone has been dissolved due to reaction of plastic components. Pain all the time, on crutches still. No knee-cap left, leg looks ugly?! Had to also have plastic surgery for aide in healing the scars. Had 3 hip replacements on other leg due to poor gait. Still have the leg still I'm just not sure if amputation would lessen the pain some, would it be worth it?? Oh we'll keep trudging on ya-all this to shall pass??
Good luck to all

Posted by

on
Glad that Steve found his solution. Long story short, I've have 5 TKR's in 2.5 years and an amputated right leg above the knee. Left knee is currently working but I've had drainage for over a year from it. Another surgeon says it must be infected. The De Puy knee has attached so well that the surgeon can't break it loose from the bones without destroying them. Looks like another amputation waiting.

Posted by

on
In October,2008 my husband had a total knee replacement same day he got out of surgery he was in tremendous pain dr didn't seem to think he should be in that much pain. he left the hospital in pain.....had to go bac to hospital dr still didn't seem to know y all the pain ..he was admitted bac in the hospital after a month and the dr clean it out, few weeks later his wound started to drain he went to er were they said he had infection.. the dr refused to take knee out...they put pic line in and treated him for infection....after that he still was in pain so his dr sent him to a different dr but in the same office. he stated that the other dr didn't belive he still had infection but he said the infection was still active...so he took the knee out and put him on antibiotics thru iv pic line for six weeks then put the knee back in that still didn't solve pain .. he took him in and put rod in instead of the knee ...long story short my husband lost his leg in 2012....no lawyer would hear the case even from the beginning now we know his statue of imitations are up, and he doesn't have his leg and is still in tremendous pain this really affect my husband life,he is otherwise a healthy 64yr old man ....What I would like to know if doctors cant be held accountable for some thing that went wrong y do they have insurance and we think the dr made a mistake when he cleaned it instead taking the knee out and putting a drain in it when he went for that second surgery we were told that the knee would be taken out and spacer would be put in for six weeks even the diesase dr come in his hospital room asking were the drain was

Posted by

on
The more I read the more I wish my grandmother had sought legal counsel. I believe it was in 1995 or 1996 that she had a total knee replacement. She was doing fine when one day I stopped to check on her and she was unable to walk. At that time I had no medical background so I called my mother who in turn call the Dr. The Dr. was told that she was in severe pain, the knee was very red and warm. Since this was on a Friday and she had an appointment that coming Monday she was literally told to take 2 tylenol and come in as planned on Monday. Again, thinking the Dr. knows best we did what he said. By Monday my grandmother asked to be taken in a wheelchair which was not like her at all. When I brought her to the Dr. he looked at her like a deer in headlights. He took a sample of the discharge and told her to go to the ER ASAP. I brought her and we sat there for hours. Well long story short she ended up having a severe infection that put her in the hospital for 6-8 week on an IV drip. Was in fear of having to have her knee amputated. The end result was she had a 2nd surgery to clean the knee out and was on a antibiotic for the rest of her life. Her life was of great physical pain and really shortened the quality of her life. We all wanted to her to get a lawyer and she did not want to get anyone in trouble. I have always wished she had because it was not right and other people may have been saved the pain and suffering. As a family the pain and suffering was horrible to watch a woman that never complained, never cried, be brought to this level was heartbreaking. I am not sure of the company that made her replacement but it makes you wonder. I know that this was years ago but it feels like yesterday that I saw my beloved grandmother brought to tears by this terrible injustice!

Posted by

on
Original surgery 2007, total knee replacement at 44 & contracted mrsa. I'm now 52 & had a revision in 2013. The mrsa took 6 teeth, killed my immune system. I had to have a pic line for 8 weeks, was on warfarin for 10 months, was put into a nursing home & was confused with another resident which disallowed me from going home. I was 44yrs old.I'm Bi-polar & they told me i wouldn't be touched cause i was contagious. I thought it was forever. The antibiotics for almost 2yrs,its been absolutely horrible. Seems like no one cares what they did to me. Its extremely depressing

Posted by

on
My husband has the same story. Stryker 2010, tibia plate did not fuse, 2012 Stryker replacement. Got hospital MERSA, 2014 now has knee removed with cement beads, picc line. Waiting for 3rd knee replacement. How do we get legal help?

Posted by

on
Anyone had a Stryker replacement, omg something went wrong, all I got was a knee size of a large grapefruit and what feels to be a gallon of cement poured into it. I I am miserable. it got worse and worse and came loose omg, omg. My doctor did a revision ion 7/12, oh my Jesus oh my Lord I can barely walk. I feel like I'm lift a car each step I take. I never got better, I fall constantly, all I can do is keep praying, my doctor speaks of doing a 3rd, hep please I am a mental case, please, I had sec opinion, he was like oh the problem was your size or bearing was cut wrong. I am under 50 and my brain has rolled under the couch .

Posted by

on
It looks like an ALLERGY!!! Just like Steve's story and everyone else looking at this I'm going next week for my 3rd revision plus throw in a manipulation in between all in the last 3 years and they ( Docs ) just found out I'm allergic to the nickel in the knee replacement. My pain is 24/7 sleep about 2 hrs a night. This will bring tears to the biggest of us all. 6ft 200 lbs and a young 53. Everyone PLEASE, PLEASE get an allergy test done. Its so simple and can save other's from going thru this God Awful pain.

Posted by

on
I am a 50yr. old single man a Type #2 diabetic, and like Steve I to am a Construction Cost Estimator specializing in Disasters. I have been out of work due to my left knee since 2009. I to have the an infection I to had the Pic line and 800ml of Vancomycin antibiotics daily with again a Stryker total knee Implant.
On Oct, 9th 2012 I was admitted in the hospital for a simple
full knee replacement released with pain meds. Two and a 1/2
weeks later I have pus oozing from the staples readmitted for a debridement or clean out of the implant, the knee was removed supposedly sanitized and the same knee was put back into my body??? The debridement was done on Oct. 30,
the next 6 weeks I am in major pain, went back to see the same surgeon and a blood test revealed that I still have this infection, Dec. 30th they remove the implant put antibiotic blocks and a spacer! On July 10, 2013 a new doc and hospital
will remove the blocks and leave my knee naked in hope I beat this bone infection, I am facing an amputation above the knee, if knee is worse or the same!! The infectious doc's opinion is that my STRYKER IMPLANT IS THE CAUSE OF THIS!! I NEED A LAWYER TO TAKE MY CASE!!! CAN ANYONE IN AMERICA HELP ME!!

Posted by

on
If you have an Orthopedic Device that has failed, Check out the following;
1. Check what type of cement they used.
2. Was it a Proprietary cement. (Match, Apples to Apples)
3. Check out www.FDA.com (Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, Criminal Investigations, Warning letters.

If it was Stryker "Surgical Simplex P you have a great case.

• It has caused more Catastrophic events than most, and to get the information go to; www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActionLetters/2007/umc076583.htm., this problem goes back even further that 2007.

Please people do not give up hope.

Respectfully,

kc

Posted by

on
I've had 6 knee replacements on my left leg. The last one I got mrsa and entercoccus cassiflivous and can't get a lawyer to touch my class cause its to complicated. The lawyers want a open and shut case so they don't have to work to get their share of money

Posted by

on
I have bad knees, but after reading Steve's story decided I would rather suffer with my discomfort than risk the Murphy's law nightmare Steve experienced! His story is a prime example of the importance of seeking any and all alternative remedies to save your life and limb no matter what your illness or injury rather than taking the word of one Dr. as the gospel. I hope Steve finds an attorney to take his case and bring him the justice he so much deserves.

Posted by

on
I also have a Stryker Triathalon knee replacement. I have had pain since it was put in. I thankfully don't have an infection but the latest bone scan shows that it has failed on the tibial portion and the only choice I have is either wear a brace or have revision surgery. I am not at the point I can deal with the surgery. I also need a knee replacement on my right knee and was told that I have to have the revision before I can do the replacement on the right side.

I would love to hear about any other Stryker Triathalon knee replacement problems. There was a short not from the Mayo Clinic about problems with this replacement.

Posted by

on
Wow, Steve is an incredibly brave, not to mention lucky man. As is my nephew, a Western Hockey League player, who almost lost his promising career over a case of resistant staph. Fortunately, he found Microbiologist, Michelle Moore, who also had a resistant case. Using her most appropriate educational background, she developed her own natural staph/MRSA treatment protocol that not only healed herself, but my nephew and countless others. I am so happy that Steve found his way to a solution that spared him his leg! I agree, doctors are not God, and when they say they don't have a solution for treatment (in this case a treatment for staph), we need to believe them, but not believe a solution isn’t necessarily out there. Congratulation Steve! I hope you get extremely well compensated for the nightmare you went through. Inspiring article! I hope others in need who may come upon this post, research alternative solutions that are not (yet) commonplace!

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