-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Reusing pacemakers from
dead patients is safe and effective, according to a new study.
It involved 53 heart patients in Mumbai, India, who received
pacemakers donated by the families of deceased American patients.
The pacemakers were sterilized before they were implanted in the
After receiving the pacemakers, all the patients were alive and
doing well, according to Dr. Gaurav Kulkarni, currently of Loyola
University Medical Center, and colleagues.
During two years of follow-up, there were no infections or other
major complications and none of the pacemakers failed. All but two
patients reported significant improvements in their symptoms. All
four patients who were previously employed returned to work, and 27
female patients said their symptoms improved enough that they could
resume household chores.
The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the
American Journal of Cardiology.
The Indian patients had severe heart rhythm disorders called
complete heart block and sick sinus syndrome, which left them
gasping for breath and exhausted after the slightest physical
exertion, the researchers said in a Loyola news release.
Without a pacemaker, the patients would have died within weeks
or months. But a pacemaker costs $2,200 to $6,600 in India, far
more than the patients could afford.
The pacemaker donations began as a humanitarian project but the
physicians involved later decided to conduct a formal study of the
safety and effectiveness of the reused pacemakers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibit reusing
pacemakers in the United States, but no such law exists in India,
according to the release.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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