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The impact of a failed hip implant - Barbara's story

Barbara's life has changed for the worst since her DePuy ASR hip operation

Barbara Gannon

19 November 2010

My life has changed unrecognizably as a result of being implanted with the DePuy ASR.

I have always had a love of dancing, and was the first on the floor at parties and the last one off it. I enjoyed long walks with my husband and maintained a very active social life. My hands were full with my 6 grandchildren, and I had been planning to reduce my work as a medical practice manager to part-time in order to care for the youngest.

In autumn 2008, things began to change. I put my back pains down to posture at my desk but eventually it became much worse. I was eventually referred to a see an orthopaedic surgeon who confirmed that I needed an operation. He told me about a new procedure using the DePuy ASR Resurfacing component. As I was not yet 60 at the time, I was thought to be the perfect candidate for this procedure. I had been told that this Resurfacing component was shown to be better than conventional hip replacements and would give me full mobility for the next 15 to 20 years. I was looking forward to being back to my normal self.

My operation in October 2008 seemed to be a success. I was up and about with my youngest granddaughter and had been attending my dance classes. It was around March the following year when things started to take a turn for the worse. I kept having this feeling that my hip would dislocate and that something was wrong. Once, when I was in my living room, I bent down and there was a click so distinctive that my mother told me that she had heard it. I had to stand still and try and twist to relieve the pain. From then, when I went to my dancing classes, I would hear this click and would freeze. My dance teacher would insist that I then go and sit down. Eventually, I had to give up dancing altogether.

I felt I had to go to the hospital and have this checked out. My original surgeon was unavailable but I was quickly seen by the covering one. I was told that there was no risk of dislocation and it seemed to be a mystery as to what the problem actually was. Things became much worse during the course of 2009 and I was in so much pain by that winter that I went again to really make my case to the doctor that something was wrong. I did not have to do this in the end because he said it was evident that I had developed a problem and that I would need to go for an aspiration. On aspiration, he found a stream of thick, muddy fluid come out of my hip. I was relieved at this point because the pain subsided and I thought that this would be the end of the matter, although my surgeon did say that the pain would come back. I was fine at the New Year but then in the middle of January I developed a pain unlike anything before it. My surgeon saw me immediately and told me that it was critical that he operated.

At this stage, I was crying because of the pain and barely able to move. In March 2010, I had a revision surgery after much discussion with my surgeon about the complications and risks involved in hip revisions. I felt I had to do it as I really wanted my normal life back. After the revision, my surgeon told me that the soft tissue around the joint had been destroyed and was surrounded by a cheesy material. This tissue reaction, which is known as ALVAL, had been caused by the debris being rubbed off the metal components and entering the blood stream and surrounding tissue.

I  had hoped that the revision surgery would relieve the pain and restore my mobility, but the damage done by the ALVAL, which had eaten a considerable part of my pelvis, was so severe that I am now wheelchair bound for most of the time and in persistent pain. I am exhausted and really down. A good day for me is when the pain is not too bad but I am unable to walk. I’ve been told that I need to be opened up again.

My entire life has changed as a result of the as a result of the ASR . People perceive me differently in my current condition and I am unable to do any of the activities that I enjoyed so much. I have been unable to drive since last March, although I am hoping to eventually be able to use an automatic car. The gardening tools that everyone gave me as my retirement present have remained untouched as I am not even able to weed the garden. I am heartbroken that I am not able to look after and play with my grandchildren as I would like.

I am so very angry and disappointed with what has happened. If it is true that DePuy did not test the product fully and properly before release,  I think it is absolutely disgraceful and the product should never have been allowed on the market. The DePuy ASR has now been recalled and the manufacturer DePuy International Limited has stated that they will pay for treatment costs associated with the recall. However, this component has cost me so much more. I believe that I am entitled to compensation from the manufacturer for all the pain and heartache I have been put through as well as all the other financial costs that I have incurred as a result of it.

All the compensation in the world will not make up for the fact that I am in a wheelchair.

Even so, I feel it is important to me that I obtain the full extent of compensation that I am entitled to. I needed to find a law firm with vast experience in defective product liability who fully understood the scientific issues involved and the problems that I am likely to face in the future. I therefore instructed Leigh Day & Co in May this year to bring a claim for compensation of my behalf. Since then they have been approached by over 200 ASR patients to bring group action proceedings on their behalf as well. 

If you or a member of your family has been affected by a DePuy ASR hip implant, please call or email Boz Michalowska on 020 7650 1311 to discuss your personal situation.


Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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