Nova Scotia WCB Refuses to Acknowledge Symptoms - Gives
Only $300/month to Unemployable Man.
"For the past 20 years, Kelly's been unable to work. The
heavy medication causes his hands to often shake uncontrollably. He even had to
have a section of his rib grafted to replace his dissolved jaw. All this came
from falling off a ladder at work - the injury that caused him to get the jaw
replacement to begin with. But he gets only five per cent disability from
workers compensation - about $300 a month - because the compensation board has
refused to acknowledge his bizarre symptoms."
Man suing over illegal Teflon jaw implant
HEALTH Immune system rejects plastic, attacks
PAUL MCLEOD The Daily News
remembers stopping in his tracks. The woman on TV was going through the same
hell he was.
Like him, the woman in the documentary had her ribs
surgically transplanted to her face. She had the years of excruciating pain,
the bones in her jaw completely dissolved, and even the daily handful of
painkillers that often weren't enough.
Most importantly, the woman,
like him, had received a Vitek jaw implant. Kelly, a 49-year-old Mount Uniacke
resident, sat down to watch more and learned many things he hadn't known.
He learned the jaw implant he got in 1985 was never legally allowed to be
sold in Canada. He learned there were hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadians
out there like him, who had received the implant because doctors assumed it was
legal because they could buy it.
And he learned what was happening to
The Vitek implant in his jaw was made of Teflon, which the
body rejects and attacks. But the immune system can't dissolve the plastic, and
instead turns cannibalistic, dissolving the jawbone.
medication, I'd be curled up in a ball on the floor somewhere," said Kelly. "I
get headaches big time, screaming in pain. My head hurts so much that I become
photophobic (sensitive to light) and then I start throwing up."
Kelly is involved in a national lawsuit against Health Canada. The suit,
believed to be the first of its kind in the country, claims the government
failed to protect the health of its citizens.
The lawsuit stems from
Health Canada not issuing warnings about the implants. The perceived result is
people like Kelly are being improperly diagnosed.
For the past 20
years, Kelly's been unable to work. The heavy medication causes his hands to
often shake uncontrollably. He even had to have a section of his rib grafted to
replace his dissolved jaw.
All this came from falling off a ladder at
work - the injury that caused him to get the jaw replacement to begin with. But
he gets only five per cent disability from workers compensation - about $300 a
month - because the compensation board has refused to acknowledge his bizarre
"Because Health Canada, in my respectful view, has wantonly
refused to issue a warning, all over Canada these people are seeing family
doctors who have no idea what they're looking at," said John Legge, the
Toronto-based lawyer who is one of those spearheading the lawsuit against the
Legge said people like Kelly are being continually
misdiagnosed. The immune system can't absorb the implant, but it does break it
into shreds. Like pieces of shrapnel, the Teflon spreads throughout the body,
causing the immune system to cannibalize itself in new areas. General
practitioners are often baffled by the symptoms.
"(Kelly has) got a
stack of medical records saying his conditions are medically inexplicable, he
needs a psychiatrist. It's unbelievable," said Legge. "This is absolutely a
twilight-zone, living, slow-motion horror movie for these people."
government didn't know the implants were being used in Canada until 1990. By
that time, Vitek had already gone bankrupt. No legal action was taken against
Lawyers across the country have been working almost eight
years to get the lawsuit certified. Earlier this month Ontario's Superior Court
of Justice ruled to allow the class action against the federal government.
As for Kelly, doctors don't believe there will ever be any relief for the
pain he's lived with almost half his life. Because he is considered
unemployable, his family has taken a major financial hit and had to sell much
of their assets. He now works as a carpenter from his home "to keep from going
insane," and his wife works multiple jobs to try to keep up with bill
He laments that he, his wife, and his two daughters, now in
their 20s, have had to give up on so much.
"We ended up having to sell
off our lake property which was going to be our retirement home," he said. "I
had a Harley paid for. Things were great. But as soon as I ended up injured and
sick, everything just disappeared."