Sunday, December 11, 2011

A heartfelt gift from the US to India

In the spirit of this time of year, my attention was drawn to an article in the American Journal of Cardiology about re-using pacemakers from "deceased" patients. As far as I am aware, it is illegal in most western societies to re-use a cardiac pacemaker once the patient/owner has died, but this article reports that the prohibition does not apply if the pacemakers are sent to other, more needy parts of the world.

The project reported in the journal, was initiated by an Indian medical student prior to his move to Loyola University. He interviewed 53 poor patients in Mumbai who had severe rhythm disorders that had left them breathless with even the mildest of exertion. Their poverty meant that the price of between $2,200 to $6,600 for a pacemaker, was way beyond their wildest dreams. On reaching Loyala, the now Dr Kulkarni started out a philanthropic venture to get the pacemakers from donor families to be sent to India. This then progressed to research to confirm how safe the process was.

Each pacemaker was rigorously cleaned and sterilized after removal, and then only those with a remaining battery life of at least three years were chosen for future implantation. After two years follow up, all the patients are alive and all but two reported much improved health. Importantly there have been no battery failures and no reports of infection.

Dr Kulkarni appears to have taken a simple idea and followed through with it: the families of those who no longer need their pacemakers have shown true generosity, and the needy recipients have been given a new lease on life. It's an idea that ticks so many boxes, and one that deserves our world wide support as the global family celebrates this very special time of giving gifts at Christmas.
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Mariodacatsmom said...

What great news. Judging from the article you read, it appears to be quite safe to reuse medical devices. What a blessing for those who would otherwise do without and die. Now if we could only find a way to donate leftover, unused drugs to the needy through some carefully controlled program.

Aryan said...

great work!!