Disabled woman files lawsuit against artificial hip manufacturer

Narelle Lindrea waited nearly two years to recover from her hip replacement surgery, but the pain and disability never seemed to subside. She called her doctor’s office to ask why she was still hurting, and that’s when she learned her artificial hip had been recalled.

“I was stunned and all I could say to her was, ‘It’s not just like a can of baked beans!’”

Narelle is one of an estimated 93,000 people worldwide who received the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR-model hip replacement system. The device was built with metal-on-metal parts designed to be stronger and more durable than traditional ceramic models. However, just a few short years after DePuy’s ASR-model artificial hips hit markets worldwide, reports of failure began to mount. Problems included dislocations, fractures and loosening. This unusually high number of complaints led the company to issue a worldwide recall.

There was something else unusual about the problems victims of the faulty devices experienced. Many tested positive for heavy metals in their bloodstream. That’s when doctors began to notice that in some patients, when the metal parts of the device rubbed against each other, bits of metal could potentially fall into the joint space, causing inflammation and irritation. The metal also is suspected of leaching into the bloodstream causing a type of blood poisoning called metallosis.

Narelle was one of the patients who tested positive for metals in her blood, a condition that her doctor said likely caused her fatigue and loss of hair.

DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has agreed to cover the cost for surgery to replace the defective implant, but Narelle says she deserves more from the company. Since her revision surgery, she remains disabled and has had to cut back to working just two days a week. The loss of wages and medical expenses have caused her to suffer even greater financial loss, which is why Narelle has joined a class-action lawsuit against the makers of the defective device.

“I’m too young to live like this,” she said. “I need to come back to life soon.”

The Courier