India – Indian researchers are working in tandem with a group of American doctors to ensure pacemakers taken from funeral homes in the USA are sent to India. To date, devices have been tested on more than 50 Indian patients and have been found to run without any significant complications.
The possibility of reusing implantable devices has been largely ignored in the past because of concerns over possible infection. The devices selected for testing were rigorously cleaned and sterilised before they were sent to the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai, which serves all patients regardless of income.
‘Like anything else, devices are also recyclable,’ says Dr Bharat Kantharia of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. ‘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.’ Stimubank and Heartbeat International are among the important organisations whose mission is to transport free pacemakers to poorer countries.