WILMINGTON, Del. - Daniel Metzgar had a problem that wouldn't go away.
The Newark, Del., truck driver lived with an erection that lasted about eight months -- a result of a botched surgical procedure by a Wilmington, Del., urologist who performed a penile implant on him in 2009, according to a medical malpractice lawsuit being heard this week in New Castle County Superior Court.
Wherever the 44-year-old went, his condition got in the way, said Metzgar's attorney, Michael C. Heyden. Retrieving the morning newspaper became a problem. Riding his motorcycle was, too. Even family events became uncomfortable because, as Heyden put it, "Dan is stuck in this position."
The source of the issue was a three-piece inflatable implant, consisting of inflatable cylinders inside the shaft of the penis, a fluid reservoir under the abdominal wall and a pump inside the scrotum.
Attorneys for the urologist, Dr. Thomas J. Desperito, argued during Monday's opening statements that sometimes, bad medical results occur through the fault of no one.
They suggested Metzgar should have known something was wrong after he had the surgery, when, he said, his scrotum swelled to the size of a volleyball. Instead, he didn't report anything amiss until April. Metzgar said he'd been told there would be swelling, so he thought it was normal.
Desperito's attorney, Colleen D. Shields, insisted that four months after the surgery, the urologist told Metzgar the prosthesis had to be removed when the patient complained of an infection and that the erection wasn't going down. Metzgar, according to Shields, didn't do anything for months after that visit.
Metzgar, who lost his health insurance after the December 2009 procedure, said he didn't have the $10,000 Desperito wanted before he would do the surgery. Shields dismissed that claim, saying Desperito wouldn't have dealt with the money end of it.
Metzgar ended up getting the prosthesis removed in August 2010, after tubing from the device punctured his scrotum during a family trip to Niagara Falls. The family drove back to Delaware, where he underwent surgery.
Metzgar and his wife, Donna, are seeking unspecified damages from Desperito and his medical group.
Metzgar opted for the inflatable prosthesis after other measures failed to treat his erectile dysfunction, which he said is a result of being a longtime diabetic. But, he said, it did just the opposite, making him feel less of a man.
"I could hardly dance, with an erection poking my partner," Metzgar told jurors Monday when he took the witness stand. The procedure caused him to retreat from much of life, and he took to wearing baggy sweat pants and a long shirt to hide his condition.
"It's not something you want to bring out at parties and show to friends," said Metzgar, who wrapped up his testimony Tuesday.
Metzgar testified Monday he has gotten a replacement prosthesis from another doctor. While this device works, Metzgar said, the scar tissue from the first surgery left his member about 50% smaller, and he does not experience the same level of sensation.
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