The number of patients alleging damages from Mizzou Biojoint surgeries grew to 17 this week, as four additional plaintiffs filed suit claiming the alternative to traditional knee-replacement surgery has failed them.

Biojoint surgeries harvest patient stem cells to seed to bone surfaces a graft of bone tissue and cartilage taken from a cadaver, as a means to treat osteoarthritis in the knee. It offers what is marketed as a biological alternative to traditional total knee replacement, which used plastic and metal implants to replace the entire joint.

In March 2018, the first lawsuit over the procedure was filed. All the plaintiffs allege the procedure failed them in various ways. Many were required to undergo the traditional knee replacement in the aftermath. Named as defendants are MU orthopedic surgeon James Stannard, center director James Cook, a veterinarian with credentials in regenerative orthopedics and other accolades, and the university.

Judge Brouck Jacobs in May dismissed the university from the other lawsuits, after attorneys argued it was a state entity protected by sovereign immunity. Attorney for the plaintiffs, Todd Hendrickson, who did not respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday, indicated he will appeal the university’s dismissal.

The four plaintiffs filing a joint petition Monday in Boone County include a teacher, a court clerk, an analyst and a nurse with residences spanning Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. All had the procedure and claim in the petition they still experience pain to this day. MU Healthcare spokeswoman Jesslyn Chew said she could not comment on the pending litigation but stood by the Biojoint team and said the center was forthcoming about benefits and risks.

“While we are unable to comment on this particular situation pending litigation, we are confident in the Mizzou Biojoint program and very proud of our outstanding team who provides treatment options to patients with knee, ankle, shoulder, and other joint problems,” Chew wrote in an email. “As with all medical procedures, it is our practice to discuss and provide extensive information about the benefits and risks prior to all surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed at the Mizzou Biojoint Center.”

Of the plaintiffs in the latest petition, Cassidy Rideout was 16-years-old when she had the surgery in February of 2013, a follow up procedure that April and another in August when swelling was present. By September that year, Stannard noted the transplants looked “phenomenally good,” the petition reads.

In the summer of 2014, Rideout was admitted with persistent pain and physicians removed hardware related to the graft. A follow up in December that year showed a buildup of fluid and that the grafts were deteriorating. In June of 2016, it was discovered the deterioration had progressed and that July, Stannard found they were failing, according to the petition.

Rideout underwent a second biojoint surgery in December 2016 where Stannard performed new grafts to her knee. Those too ultimately failed despite additional procedures throughout 2017. In January, Rideout sought a second opinion and at the age of 22, she was found to have severe osteoarthritis and she continues to suffer to date.

While Rideout seemingly endured the longest ordeal of the plaintiffs included in the latest petition, all described similar complaints. Each had the procedure and at first it seemingly went well. Down the road, the grafts began deteriorating or other issues emerged. Janeee Schelich, a 54-year-old teacher, had the procedure in October 2016, and during a seven-month follow up she had pain and swelling that made it difficult to walk. In June 2017, Rideout had a second Biojoint surgery and new grafts were placed, but she continued to feel pain in her knee afterward.

A month later when she went to another physician for a traditional replacement, it was discovered her knee was severely infected. According to the petition, she had to have a line placed in her knee for a long-term antibiotic course and was homebound for three months before her third surgery.

Allografts have been used for nearly 40 years but the biojoint procedures created at MU use far more of the tissues than other types of surgeries, according to court documents filed in the cases. MU Health Care pathologist Eddie Adelstein has repeatedly spoken against the methods used in the procedure, saying he was surprised more patients have not come forward.

A trial date is pending in the original case and attorneys have not sought to combine the lawsuits in any fashion at this point, so it is unclear when the matter may be before the court.

ppratt@columbiatribune.com