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December 5, 2023

Gym Teacher Collapses After Artificial Hip 'Catastrophically' Failed

Gym Teacher Collapses After Artificial Hip 'Catastrophically' Failed, Prompting Legal Action Against Recalled Implant

Bradley Little is raising awareness about a recalled hip implant that many patients still have inside of them.

After Bradley Little, a physical education teacher from Mesa, Arizona, suddenly collapsed in the hallway of the middle school where he taught, he learned that the accident was caused by a failed hip implant, prompting legal action against the manufacturer.

According to a report by CBS News, a metal part from the artificial implant in his right hip had suddenly snapped, causing him to fall. "It looked like a laser went through it," Little, 56, told the outlet about the implant’s break in 2017. He added, "It was like someone just went in there and cut it right in the middle."

Little's implant — called the Profemur by its manufacturer, Wright Medical Technology, Inc — was a titanium device that came in multiple sizes to ensure a better, more custom fit for each patient. It had a 2-inch long "neck" that connected his leg to his hip, CBS News reported. And unlike other implants, the neck detached at both ends to adjust the angle to better fit the patient.

According to a lawsuit Little would later file against the manufacturer, the device “suddenly and catastrophically structurally failed."

After incidents like these, metal from the broken implants then get embedded in the bone, causing the patient to undergo a painful surgical repair that involves opening up the bone, the outlet reported.

Cases like Little’s — where the neck snapped — prompted a recall of some sizes of the device in 2020, according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, CBS News reported that other sizes of the Profemur implant "have not been permanently recalled." 

According to CBS News, which partnered with KFF Health News to investigate cases involving failed implants, there have been "180 lawsuits filed in federal court in the past decade alleging Profemur modular necks broke or corroded."

Per the investigation, CBS News learned that most of the lawsuits were resolved out of court with Wright Medical or MicroPort, which bought its hip and knee implant division in 2013, not having to publicly admit fault.

"Wright Medical has denied liability in some lawsuits before settling them and has defended Profemur implants in court in the years before some of the implants were recalled for fracturing," the outlet reported.

PEOPLE has reached out to Wright Medical Technology, Inc. for comment. 

Little, who developed arthritis in his 30s, recalled to CBS News how he was told the Profemur was made for "people just like myself who are young, athletic."

However, four years after his first Profemur hip implant break, Little suffered a second break in his left hip, "according to his lawsuit, in which Wright Medical denied liability and settled out of court," CBS News reported.

"I've been robbed of some things," Little, who told the outlet that his injuries are prompting him to retire four years ahead of schedule, said. "There should be accountability for it."

Little's replacement surgery is increasingly common as the population ages, according to the American College of Rheumatology. More than 450,000 undergo hip replacement surgery annually — and that includes stars like Alec BaldwinKris Jenner and Christie Brinkley.

“During a hip replacement, the surgeon makes an incision over the thigh and removes the diseased or damaged bone and cartilage from the hip joint,” the National Institute of Health explains, adding that those parts are replaced with new, artificial parts. 

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