Man warns of medical devices after late wife’s suffering

Linda and Leonard Blocka on vacation in Maui, Hawaii about five weeks before she passed away. (Leonard Blocka/Facebook)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

Almost two years after a Prince Albert woman’s passing, her husband carries resentment because he believes she would still be alive if it weren’t for a defective hip replacement.

Leonard Blocka’s wife, Linda, was only 61-years-old when she passed away because of a blood clot.

Prior to this devastation is a long journey of medical history and years of chronic pain.

Linda was on dialysis for two years from kidney failure until she got a transplant in 2003; her sister was the donor.

A couple years went by and she started to feel pain in her left hip, which doctors told her was caused by the anti-rejection medication prednisone.

Linda needed a hip replacement.

Because of her young age, doctors said a titanium device by the American brand Zimmer would give her the best stability.

She got her hip replaced in 2009, but small amounts of initial discomfort accumulated into severe pain over the years.

“It was frustrating especially to watch a lady that was very active,” said Leonard. “She’d be busy in her yard. I call it her yard because she loved the flowers and stuff like that.”

Linda could only garden for about an hour and a half at a time before needing to rest her joint.

Regardless, she strived to continue doing what she loved.

“She had that determination, but, I mean, the pain. There was days you could see it in her eyes,” said Leonard.

The couple saw many doctors who found no issues based on scans and X-rays.

Then, in 2015, her family doctor told her about a Vancouver lawsuit against the company and referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon in Saskatoon.

“He informed her that the Zimmer titanium joint hip device used in her surgery had been taken off the market and should have never been used in the first place. Her hip was clearly not functioning correctly and he recommended the removal and installation of a new porcelain joint,” he explained.

The titanium device had been sitting out of her socket.

Leonard said Linda’s pain was gone within a week of her second replacement, which was just a couple weeks before she passed away.

“In the early hours of March 29, 2017 I helped Linda to the washroom. We both marvelled at how well she was doing. I left her sleeping comfortably as I went about my usual chores. When I checked on her several hours later, around 8:30 a.m., I was shocked to find that Linda was not breathing,” said Leonard.

He called 9-1-1 and did CPR until EMS arrived, but paramedics couldn’t revive her.

“Life has got a huge void in it because she’s not there,” he said.

“The doctors on the surgery, they’re doing good work—it’s the products,” he emphasized. “It’s very sad that the governments have left a lot of the testing up to the companies and relied on their information, but they need a watch dog. A strict watch dog.”

“Really question the type of device, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a hip joint,” he added.

The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists collaborated with media partners around the world, including CBC and the Toronto Star, to expose the amount of people suffering from faulty medical devices.

After he came across their series, The Implant Files, Leonard felt obligated to share his wife’s story even if it helped one person.

“I know Linda would also want me to share her story,” he said.

Other devices the investigation unveiled to be poorly tested are birth control and breast implants and mesh used to treat urinary problems.