The Heart of the Matter

If there were a problem with a life-saving medical device implanted in your heart, someone would tell you, right? Tom Hatch thought so. He was wrong.

(Like most medical-device suits in this country, much of that evidence has been filed with the court under seal. Unlike courts in Canada, where Hatch's attorney's research is a matter of public record, courts here routinely bow to industry demands to close files, theoretically to protect trade secrets.)

It may be years before Hatch's case goes to trial, time he would rather not spend thinking about himself as an invalid. "After the first operation I was able to work three or four hours a day, although it would exhaust me," he says. "But certainly since the second operation it hasn't crossed my mind. My wife and I don't go out. We have virtually no social life. I have friends I see and talk to regularly. Some of them have stood by me very well.

"They want to put me on a program where I call in every day and I tell them my weight and I tell them my pulse rate and this and that and they've got all kinds of plans and programs for me to be on and I'm not going with them because I already have a tendency to look at myself as a victim, and if I started calling a medical facility every damn morning at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning—I'm not ready for that. It's like the nursing home, which I will never go to. My nursing home is going to be a beach somewhere, with a hammock.

Raoul Benavides

"There was a woman who climbed near to the top of Mt. Everest last year with the St. Jude valve who was part of an expedition and they paid for part of that," he says. "Her results with the valve are different than mine." 

City Pages news interns Em Murphy and Neil Munshi contributed research for this story.

« Previous Page