Recycled Pacemakers for Indian Patients: Have a Heart
There is new hope for heart patients in Mumbai, India, many of whom are in dire need of pacemakers and cannot afford them.
Thanks to a team of Indian researchers working in tandem with a dedicated group of American doctors, pacemakers taken from funeral homes in the U.S. are donated by the relatives of deceased heart sufferers to those in India who need them.
So far, Indian patients have tested 53 devices, which have been found to run without any significant complications.
Although recycling is a phenomenon that is ubiquitous in modern life, the reason implantable devices have been largely ignored for this purpose concerns the FDA’s fear of possible infection.
The 53 devices selected were rigorously cleaned and sterilized before they were sent to Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai, which serves all patients regardless of income.
“Like anything else, devices are also recyclable. There is no reason why they can’t be reused. There may be other issues — personal, technical, legal, and other kinds of issues — but the effort is worth it because in India, there are people dying because of a lack of resources,” said Dr. Bharat Kantharia of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Reusable pacemakers in deceased patients in the U.S. is a largely untapped resource. Hopefully, they can save many more lives in the near future.
Stimubank and Heartbeat International are two important organizations whose mission is to transport free pacemakers to poorer countries.
Transportation is a very simple affair. Most devices are brought to India with luggage.
It would appear that recycling is much bigger than even its most noble original goal of saving the planet. Now, recycling saves lives too.
Check out this interesting video about the international recycling of electronic devices.