Thousands of pacemakers are currently left unused around Europe after their owners pass away. European rules state that a pacemaker can only be used once within the continent, but a charity called Pace 4 Life wants to help recycle these life-saving devices — donating them to patients in developing countries who would otherwise be unable to afford them.
Pace 4 Life is undertaking the campaign in association with the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors. They are collecting consent from patients and their families to collect their pacemakers after death. The donated devices are then tested and if they are fit for reuse with more than 70 percent battery life, they are resterilized and implanted in patients in the developing world. A single pacemaker costs approximately GBP 2,500, which is well beyond the means of those who need them in poor countries such as India and Ghana where Pace 4 Life is carrying out its work.
The charity hopes that the World Health Organization will soon officially endorse the practice. Are there other life-saving devices which are going to waste in the western world?