ANN ARBOR, Mich. Patients who received refurbished pacemakers donated from Detroit area funeral homes survived without complications from the devices, according to a case series reported by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center.
The pacemakers were implanted in 12 patients at the University of Philippines- Philippine General Hospital who could not afford advanced cardiac care and were confined to their beds as they waited for a permanent pacemaker.
All donated pacemakers functioned normally at six months, and most importantly there were no device complications such as infections. The study appears online ahead of print in the Oct. 13 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The argument for pacemaker reuse has been debated for decades. But the idea is gaining ground as U-M cardiology experts report promising results of providing donated pacemakers to underserved nations.
"In light of the widening health care disparity seen between the industrialized world and developing nations, we feel that pacemaker reuse is an ethical obligation to address the medical needs of those who could not afford therapy otherwise," says co-author Timir Baman, M.D., cardiology fellow at the U-M Cardiovascular Center.
Based on surveys showing a majority of heart patients were interested in donating their pacemakers after death, U-M has launched Project My Heart Your Heart.
Project My Heart Your Heart is a joint collaboration between the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, Michigan funeral homes, and World Medical Relief, a Detroit-based non-profit organization that specializes in the delivery of used medical equipment.
"Ongoing research is needed to evaluate the feasibility of regional and potentially nationwide pacemaker donation programs," says co-author Kim Eagle, M.D., director of the U-M Cardiovascular Center.
In recent decades, industrialized nations have
|Contact: Shantell M. Kirkendoll|
University of Michigan Health System