The reality of the DePuy hips scandal can be summed up by Leo Armstrong in one simple irony.
The 72-year-old father of four and grandfather of seven was told to have almost all of his teeth removed to ensure any gum disease did not cause potential blood poisoning and resulting problems for his new hips.
However, it is the hip implants themselves that have done this specific damage.
The risk comes from “metal-on-metal” joints that grind on each other, with the risk of leaking cobalt and chromium into the body.
Speaking from his home in Prosperous, near Naas in Co Kildare, the Corkman said the potential damage which could result from the design faults had left him fearing the future.
Leo has been told low levels of cobalt have been detected in his blood. Like others, he is looking for answers.
“I had my right hip done in Jan 2007 and my left hip done that April at the Galway Clinic due to normal wear and tear. The surgery and everything was fine, but like anyone else I’ve very fearful of the risk of blood poisoning.
“We weren’t told about this cobalt risk before the hips were done, and obviously I’m worried. I could be useless to my family and my sons very soon. No one knows the long-term effects of this blood poisoning.”
Since the European stage of the crisis emerged in 2010 Leo — whose youngest son is just nine — has had to make regular visits to the Galway Clinic to clarify whether cobalt from the hips has had any impact on his circulatory or nervous system.
As a result, he is faced with the added frustration of having to make frequent trips to the other side of the country for medical tests — all at his own expense.
“The thing that terrifies me most is what will happen in the future,” he said. “I’m fine right now, but no one can tell me what sort of damage this blood poisoning could do in the years to come.”
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