Penny Brown was a proud spokesmodel for DePuy Orthopaedics, promoting the company’s ASR XL hip replacement system in posters and consulting others to have the same implant based on her experience. But a few years after receiving the metal-on-metal hip implant, Penny began experiencing problems. Her hip was causing her constant pain, and she also felt a “clunking” sensation when she walked. She became consumed with the fear that she may end up in a wheelchair. When the pain became unbearable, her doctor told her the only solution was to undergo revision surgery to remove and replace a defective implant.
What Penny soon learned was that DePuy ASR hip replacement systems were failing at an unusually high rate. Reports of mounting failures resulted in the 2010 recall of the implant.
Designed to be more durable with metal parts instead of the more traditional ceramic ones, the metal-on-metal construction was actually found to be flawed. Studies show that as the metal parts move against each other, bits of metal can fall into the joint space. This can cause inflammation and pain that may cause the implant to loosen, fracture or dislocate. The bits of metal were also found in some cases to enter the bloodstream and cause a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis.
“I could not believe that I, who had so promoted and believed in the product, was falling victim to the design defect,” Penny said. She has since joined hundreds of other victims in a lawsuit against the device’s manufacturer, DePuy Orthopaedics.
“I cannot sit or stand for long periods and I’m a shadow of my former self,” she said. “I’m extremely angry. As the poster lady for DePuy I’ve not only been let down personally but, as I encouraged others to have it, feel to some extent responsible for their suffering.”