UK Man Chooses Freedom to Talk about Cobalt Poisoning Over Hip Replacement Settlement
December 29th, 2015 by Cutter Law
It’s always good to see the mainstream media calling attention to the suffering of metal-on-metal hip implant patients. A recent article in UK newspaper The Daily Mail chronicles the story of Howard Piper, a 62-year old British man who believes a “series of apparently random but debilitating symptoms, from chronic tiredness and irritability to tinnitus” can be attributed to cobalt poisoning from his metal hip replacement.
His story begins at the age of 58 when, during a road trip, he experienced a sudden, unexplained, overwhelming sense of exhaustion and drove straight into an oncoming vehicle. He’d had a metal-on-metal hip replacement (Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing) implanted a year prior to his accident, and the strange symptoms continued to develop from there on out.
After another year, a serious infection arose in his hip, and Piper had blood work done after. The blood work showed that his cobalt levels were nine times higher than the UK medical devices regulator’s safety margin. When he pursued the possibility of having hip revision surgery, a toxicologist “suggested his symptoms had all been in the mind — because his hip was still functioning.”
Piper then discovered the work of Dr. Stephen Tower, an orthopedic surgeon from Alaska whose own metal-on-metal hip implant problems spurred his scientific research into cobalt poisoning. Dr. Tower believes that metal poisoning from metal joint replacements is “probably considerably more common than anybody is letting on” and that “so many of the problems linked to systemic toxicity are missed, he believes, because ‘they are so easily attributed to ageing’.”
After a long battle with the National Health Service, Piper finally had his hip implant replaced with a ceramic one. As the poisonous cobalt ions left his body, his symptoms began to disappear.
Did he receive any compensation from Smith & Nephew for the dangerous device they manufactured? Piper shares his decision:
“About a month before he received his ceramic hip joint, Howard contacted Smith & Nephew, the maker of his metal-on-metal replacement. The company’s lawyers, he says, made him an ‘unacceptable’ offer of £50,000, which he rejected. ‘It became clear I would not be able to talk about it afterwards.’
Instead, he says, he preferred to have ‘the freedom’ to spread the word about cobalt poisoning.”
A difficult decision to make, but one that will surely benefit the growing number of metal hip patients suffering too often in silence.
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