Encouraging news from a New England Journal of Medicine article finding that the infection risk associated with resterilized pacemakers does not differ significantly from the infection risk seen in new pacemakers.
Used pacemakers are safe to use but you won’t see them recycled in the U.S. because the FDA, at the insistence of the pharmaceutical industry, which has banned a used pacemaker market in the U.S., although Sweden has been doing it for more than 25 years.
This is especially good news for people in underserved communities with limited resources outside the United States who are in need of this lifesaving technology.
With a cost of a pacemaker on the order of $6,000, in many countries that amounts to years of income for the world’s poor.
Resterilization and reuse of implantable cardiac devices, harvested from the dead, can safely be used in new patients, saving and prolonging someone’s life.
Rather than being buried or cremated with a pacemaker, have it removed after death and donate. Like opting into organ donation, people with pacemakers can help others, long after they’re gone.
Please share this blog with relatives and friends to let them now that they can have their pacemaker removed after their death, so that another person can live.
The NEJM study looked at reused and resterilized pacemakers and defibrillators that were sent to patients in underserved nations as far back as 1983. A registry was established to track patients, and then compared with control patients in Canada who received new devices in a 1:3 ratio. The data showed that among patients in underserved counties who received a resterilized and reused pacemaker or defibrillator, the incidence of infection or device-related death at two years was 2.0 percent. These numbers don’t differ significantly from those seen among matched control patients with brand new devices in Canada.
Donating a pacemaker is a life-saving gift. Pacemaker patients should contact Implant Recycling and sign up for their donor program. https://www.implantrecycling.com
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