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Patients Die But Their Pacemakers Live On: What Happens?

Friday, April 4, 2014   (0 Comments)
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Cardiologist With a Mission:

Robbing Graves and Smuggling to Save Lives


U.S. government regulations say a pace maker can have only one user.  So when patients die, the pacemakers buried with them may keep pulsing uselessly under ground for years. Dr. Daniel Mascarenhas, a cardiologist in Pennsylvania, was shocked when a patient of his died and was buried days after getting a pacemaker with a 10-year-battery life. Pacemakers cost $6,000-$7,000 and defibrillators cost.$27,000 - $28,000.  In the U.S., some 250,000 people get pacemakers each year. In India, where Dr. Mascarenhas grew up and trained, few can afford them.  Dr. Mascarenhas calls funeral directors, gets families’ permission to remove devices, then sterilizes and refurbishes them.  Then people help smuggle them to doctors in India. He has begun refurbishing other medical devices for use in India too. We refurbish laptops and IPhones, he reasons, why not life-saving devices?

Hear the NPR story and read the transcript..

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