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Dear Howard, Earl, and Fellow BHR Sufferers,

BHR indexI got chills reading Howard’s remarks because I have been thinking the very same thing–about uniting and trying to put an end to this outright criminal act in which Smith and Nephew is trying to get away. It is truly appalling, revolting–makes me ill and beyond frustrated–I just want to retreat and try to make the anger go away, as I hear the seconds ticking away on my Statute of Limitations. But I have now come to the mindset that I know inertia is not the answer.

Howard, you have endured so much, and I your life has been tragically compromised, as Smith and Nephew continues to preach their deceptive dogma, and plant these poisonous mega-destructive devices into clueless victims. 

After two revisions, and living the past three years in horrendous acute to chronic pain, on elbow crutches or a cane, and on daily pain meds that never fully narcotized my pain, only made it tolerable–I have most fortunately had my pelvis reconstructed after massive osteolysis and pseudotumour lied where healthy bone was once. My surgeons were doubtful they could successfully graft with enough stability to replace the bone the metals ate. For probably years, my Cobalt blood level was 60% above the norm, and my Chromium, 35.5%.

When my BHR first failed, I thought it was a no-brainer to file a law suit against S&N. I mean, I so naively felt (as I have now come to understand) if just ONE person could get as sick as I from this bloody device, than that person should be entitled to compensation. I have to admit, in your recent post, Earl, when reading about the patients who sued Stryker for their squeaky hips, I again felt my blood begin to boil. I know it is a drag to have a squeaky hip–my Birmingham squeaked from the get-go, and it was always embarrassingly alarming. But really?? I would have welcomed a squeaky hip compared to the nightmare, I, and many of you, have withstood. What the hell is wrong with our world if people can sue Stryker for this, and we can’t sue Smith and Nephew because they are juridically protected.

Howard, forgive me for not listening to, or researching the facts that you knew all too well. You tried to make us all privy–in USA, the FDA’s PMA, the pre-emtion law. I was ignorant, I was in my own world with my diagnosis–still astonished such a thing could happen–but focused on my pain and healing, and a very, very difficult rehab after my first revision–which proved unsuccessful. Immediately after revision surgery, I was in bed for months, toe touching, and progressively placing gradual weight upon the leg, until it fractured 4 1/2 months later, never able to fully weight bear anyway. The whole agonizing regimen was abortive. (Earl, I am finally going to post my entire story–my path from sickness to wellness–it is inspirational, I am sure, for all of you who are suffering–but I want to address Howard’s appeal first.)

I signed up with an attorney who also signed others in our group. He held onto all of our cases for a year, only to drop them with a letter. All the previous conversations I had had with him on the phone where he stated I had a strong Product Liability case, and even named a dollar amount he felt certain I would receive, were gratuitous. He was only accumulating cases–names, BHR failures. He explained nothing to me about the politics of the situation, the PMA, the pre-emption, about possible sanctions attorneys could be fined if they would even try to litigate S&N. It was only after (and forgive me for not recalling the state) the only US case filed against Smith and Nephew from a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing female plaintiff, was dropped in court, that my attorney callously composed the letter dropping my case, and I am assuming, all the others. He couldn’t even call me to explain his plight–there was just no potential in it for him any longer, so, he was done. After cutting into my 3 year statute for a year. 

As it turns out–and as I started to HEAR what Howard was informing us about only seeking out an attorney apprised of the grave specifics of trying to take on S&N under their current protection dome–my current lawyer, astute to all of this–is trying to find a way around the pre-emption. He is highly doubtful–no surprise, as we have come to know–he cannot litigate the case at this time.

I was so inspired by your letter, Howard. It did put a fire under me. We would be abandoning our constitutional rights if we don’t unite–form a coalition, and FIGHT these despicable bastards! What in the world do we have to lose by giving them the biggest fight they have unintentionally beckoned?

We need to be a cohesive, global voice–testifying to our respective governing agencies, and individually presenting our ruination with the product–depicting our pain and anguish, and the deep, deep injustice we are enduring. We need Press. We need to Make Noise, Make Waves. We owe this to ourselves and we owe it to future patients who may receive a BHR and suffer as we have.

Howard, I am not as knowledgable as you are, regarding the clinical data supplied by S&N which led the FDA to approve the BHR a PMA. (Whew, that’s a mouthful!) But, I can imagine the study group did NOT contain many highly active people (those of us who were active with the BHR seemed to have suffered massive destruction, even though Smith and Nephew falsely marketed the product as, “the best choice for younger, athletic people”). And I can imagine the study EXCLUDED many perio-menapausal women, which is now proven to be a bad idea for this group. And I can imagine there WEREN’T many small boned women in the study group. When my Index surgeon–the one who first implanted the BHR–found out about my failure, and that I planned to file a claim against S&N, one of his comments was, “The Birmingham is still a very good product for LARGE BONED MEN.” He also told me they know much more now about the ideal candidate for the Birmingham, as opposed to what they knew back then. (I was implanted in Nov, 2005.) And that it is not suitable for small boned women. How am I supposed to feel about that now–being 5’1′ and 98 lbs? It was a poor choice for me, but they didn’t know it back then. But, they know it now, and do they BOLDY ADVERTISE AND CAUTION THIS?  I am sure there are still small framed women across the planet who are receiving BHR’s. ( I must interject, this initial surgeon is a most compassionate and caring man, a great doctor, and globally renowned surgeon, supportive of my travail from the very on-start, unlike the second surgeon– my first revision surgeon, who is one of the most famed Smith and Nephew surgeons in the US, out of New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery.)

Whereas my BHR surgeon (located in Chennai, India) had over 375 BHR implants to his credit when I received the prosthesis, the Hospital for Special Surgery surgeon was one of the first to implant the BHR via clinical trials pre-FDA approval. In fact, I went to India for my surgery strictly because I could not get into the clinical trials here in America, and I truly believed, because of all the hype, I was getting the most superior product on the market, for my active lifestyle, my age, and my athleticism. 

When the New York Hospital for Special Surgery Surgeon performed my first revision–slightly six years after my BHR implant, he told me I had the worst case of metallosis he had ever seen, and that it had been going on for a long time. However, seeing such a failure as mine did not hinder him from implanting other women with the BHR–I met several in his office, and they didn’t look all that big boned to me. I have heard from his office staff that Vicky Marlow of, “Surface Hippy,” (I hope she is resting in peace) repeatedly called his office to BULLY him into taking on certain patients she had convinced MUST have the BHR over THR, and they were far from ideal candidates for resurfacing. At least most of the time, from what I was told, the doctor had the good conscience to deny these patients resurfacing.

These two renowned Birmingham Surgeons and all of the other high profile resurfacing surgeons around the world have the influence to grossly hinder the implantation of the BHR, and all MoM devices, for that matter. But they quietly note their patient’s failures and revisions. I would be surprised if they reported them to the FDA, or to other countries’ administrations, or bring them up for discussion at Global Orthopaedic Conferences. They know darn well their parade is being rained on, and that all MoM implants will one day disappear from the market, but they are just letting the catastrophic journey take it course. They want their kickbacks for as long as they can get them. Ironic, I went to my first revision surgeon in New York when I became symptomatic because, being such a Smith and Nephew guy, and so renowned in implanting the Birmingham, I thought he would do the very best job he could, and I would receive much personal care, since he had a vested interest in this–he didn’t want Smith and Nephew to get a bad rap. But, I made a very wrong choice. He was odious, arrogant, lacked the adeptness to properly reconstruct my hip after he opened me up, and was not prepared for the devastation he found, and he didn’t even follow up with me personally. Fourth month Post-Op, he sent his Physician Assistant into the room to exam me, and told her to have me begin to fully weight bear upon the leg, for I was, “fully recovered.” And although I told her I do not feel stable on the hip, and cannot fully weight bear, she still told me to do it, as per his advice, so, I would stimulate the integration of the bone graft he had seeded. Two weeks later it fractured, but thankfully I had already sought out a stellar, stellar surgeon at another New York institution who was going to replace my other hip, and also foresaw the demise of the revised hip before the fracture happened, based on the 4th month post-op xray I showed him.

We all know one day all MoM implants will be obsolete–it is only a matter of time. But I believe Smith and Nephew, as crafty as they are, will simply just phase out the BHR, it won’t be recalled, and S&N will take no responsibility or accept any liability for the many lives they have disrupted and destroyed, both emotionally and physically. That is what will happen if we don’t take a stand!! WE MUST GIVE THEM HELL! WE CANNOT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH THIS. AREN’T WE WORTH IT?

I called the FDA several times to report my crisis, left a message, unable to get a live person on the phone, and I never even got a call back. I filled out all the Med-Watch and Consumer’s Reports. Nothing. Not even an acknowledgement.

Strength is in Numbers. I am pretty confident if every one who has had a BHR failure comes forward, we can prove there is more than a 1% failure rate. And we can appeal to Congress and the FDA–and the governments of Australia, New Zealand, UK, India, and anywhere else on a HUMAN level, that we have, and are, suffered, and are suffering, even if we are in the minority in regard to the product’s success rate. 

We must be relentless and show our determination. We must have ONE voice. We must have EVERY voice. We cannot just talk about it, dream about it. We cannot just wait for our Statute of Limitations to expire–feeling depressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless. If your statute has run out, you will be rewarded on an intrinsic level by helping others, and also by watching Smith and Nephew crumble its BHR.

We must get a list going. If you are committed to fighting this, you must get on the list and be willing to present your case.

Howard, I will help you spearhead in the US. I will help form the alliance, and fly to Washington in a flash to testify. I will write letters, make noise, make tenacious phone calls. I will give it all the energy I have. I am sick and tired of sulking. I want to see Smith and Nephew accept responsibility and pay for the lives they have destroyed. i don’t want to see or hear about other lives destroyed.

Please, all of you with BHR failures join us. We must also find the path to locate others who have had Birmingham failures who are not privy to Earl’s site.  Let’s be the most proactive we have been in our lives. What do we have to lose? We have already had our blood and bone taken from us. How ironic, the BHR’s advocacy program honed in on bone PRESERVATION. HA! Yeah, if they knew back then what they know now . . . the fact that they have left us Sitting Ducks while they do nothing about what they know now, IS A CRIME! Planting unsafe implants into Human Beings Bodies is an Abomination. THEY MUST BE STOPPED! 

Thank You for reading, and a Wholehearted Thank You to Earl and Howard for making a Difference in This World.

Most Truly Yours, Camille Petrillo