To document the struggles of those encountering difficulties with defective DePuy hip implants, the Berniard Law Firm presents an interview with one of its clients. While the client’s name in the following article has been changed to protect attorney-client privilege, his story is true and, unfortunately, all too common for many others suffering from undue pain and hardship due to defects recently identified in recalled DePuy ASR hip implant units.
“Eugene O’Neil” never envisioned he’d once again face the pain and anxiety associated with hip replacement surgery. Only two years ago, Eugene was fitted with a DePuy ASR Hip Implant. At the time, his surgeon maintained the artificial joint would last 15 to 20 years before showing any signs of deterioration. For Eugene, his DePuy-manufactured hip implant lasted just a little over two years before completely failing. The warehouse worker from Georgia must now undergo revision surgery to replace his failed hip unit with a functional one.
Eugene’s story is not unique. After DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, announced in August 2010 that it was recalling hundreds of thousands of its defective ASR hip implants from the American marketplace, swarms of patients suddenly realized that the intense pain and lack of mobility they had experienced following their own hip replacement surgeries were not an isolated phenomenon. At the moment, thousands of lawsuits are pending against the manufacturer for billions in dollars of pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. Revision surgery remains the only viable medical remedy for the alleviation of pain in those patients who have experienced complications from the recalled units. Like most other major surgeries, revision surgery carries with it an inherent risk of serious complications including further injury, or even death.
Coaching and participating in athletics in his free time, Eugene was healthy and active throughout much of his early life. Once he began to suffer from arthritis, however, he opted for hip replacement surgery to regain his lost mobility and mitigate resulting pain. But several months after the operation Eugene continued to experience pain in his hip region, although it was a vastly different sensation than he had ever felt before. “It felt like little toothpicks poking me,” he recalls. “It was sharper than the pain from the arthritis, and it kept getting worse.” As Eugene’s artificial hip joint continued to deteriorate, he steadily continued to lose much of his mobility. At one point, he was relegated to using the local malls’ hand railing in order to remain upright, even though he was walking on a flat surface.
In August 2010, Eugene’s surgeon informed him that his hip implant had been recalled. Yet when Eugene went to the doctor for an evaluation, the surgeon did not notice any correlation between the recalled implant and the pain Eugene reported. It was only after Eugene sought the second opinion of another surgeon that the source of Eugene’s pain was identified as a direct consequence of a failed DePuy hip implant. Accordingly, the second surgeon ordered a revision surgery as soon as possible to prevent further symptoms.
With the date for his revision surgery imminent, Eugene expresses apprehension at the thought of going under the knife a second time. The potential for surgical mistakes and other medical hazards scares him to say the least. “Two friends of mine have died following knee surgery,” he says. “Hip replacement surgery is higher risk than knee surgery.” Eugene confesses, “It puts me on edge to think that once I go under for this second surgery I may never wake up… I’m numb thinking about it…”
The second part of this interview will appear in the next few days.