Bernadette Rae, a 60-year-old yoga instructor in New Zealand, underwent a second hip replacement surgery when her ASR hip made by DePuy Orthopaedics failed. DePuy paid for Rae to receive a second surgery with a new ASR hip, another metal-on-metal hip design. Within weeks after the second surgery, Rae’s new hip began dislocating.
Rae, unable to move around the house without a walking stick, was forced to sell her home and buy a flat that is suitable for a handicapped woman. She refers to her new home as a “granny flat.” Plagued with skin rashes, cramps and insomnia that she blames on metal poisoning, Rae is frustrated that she can’t even bend to shave her legs or cut her own toenails. She’s resorted to paying a beauty therapist for the job.
“I’ve had a lot of expenses and a lot of limitations,” Rae said. “Some are mundane things, some are big things like selling my house and having to walk with a stick. Heartbreaking things. I feel I’m prematurely living a granny life now.”
Rae is one of 400 patients that have received the ASR hip made by DePuy, whose parent company is Johnson & Johnson. Many New Zealand residents are joining together in a class action lawsuit against DePuy for the metal-on-metal hip design, but New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has laws that are preventing the patients from suing DePuy for the hips and the agony they say they’ve endured as a result of the implants. ACC claims to have paid out just over $1,000,000 to 67 patients since 2005.
However, 61-year-old Joy Palaskas, another Kiwi that has experienced issues with the same hip, wants to hold DePuy directly responsible. “I feel like these big companies need to be held accountable for it. I’m not a lab rat. They can’t play with people’s health just to make money.”
Mindy Tinsley, a DePuy spokeswoman, defended the company, saying patient safety had always been their first priority. “In relation to the ASR Hip System litigation in New Zealand,” Tinsley said, “the company is reviewing the claims made against it and will be responding in due course.”