The massive worldwide recall of a vital piece of medical equipment by Philips continues to cause serious problems for some Canadians, including a Calgary woman.
Gail Johnston is one of an estimated two million Canadians who have sleep apnea — a sleep disorder. Johnston, who has had the disorder for several years, told Global News not being able to use her CPAP machine due to the recall has seriously impacted her health and her life.
“I don’t feel well rested,” she said. “My sleep and my rest are just not the same quality.”
“My sleeping habits are to the point where my husband couldn’t sleep with me without the machine. Sometimes I would sleep in a different room. Then he tried ear plugs. And now he takes melatonin to get to sleep.”
Philips issued the voluntary recall back in June 2021. The concern was that foam used in some of the machines could be toxic and could break down into small particles and then be breathed in by the user.
There were even concerns over carcinogenic effects.
“Certainly, it was a scare. And a shock,” Johnston said.
Johnston said she put any “cancer” concerns out of her mind, but she did discontinue using the machine. However, she said she knows of people who continued to use theirs despite any potential risks.
“I know of people who continued to use it afterwards because they desperately needed the machine,” she said.
Johnston said she’s not that “desperate” but she has been trying for months to contact her CPAP provider and Philips to no avail.
“I understand there’s been a shortage of chips and a shortage of parts, so I waited,” she said. “I was patient. But it’s now February of 2023 and I have not received my replacement CPAP machine.”
Global News reached out to Philips and received a statement. It read in part: “We deeply regret the concern and uncertainty felt by patients who depend on these devices for their health and well-being.”
A company official also stated the move to pull the products was “…one of the largest field actions in the medical technology industry and we take the remediation very seriously.”
Philips added it has a team of more than 1,000 employees working “very hard” to get a resolution to patients as fast as possible. But officials pointed out because it is such a complex undertaking — due to the number of devices (5,500) and individual patients — it will take time.
The company stated it will be investigating Johnston’s case and follow up with her.
Her message to Philips: “Just honour the replacements.”