Regulations in the US prohibit the recycling of implanted medical devices after their owners die, but Frank Swain on the BBC reports that there’s “a growing trend to recover them for use in the developing world”. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140311-body-parts-that-live-after-death.
At $4,000 for a pacemaker and $20,000 for an ICD [internal cardiac defibrillator], a second-hand implant is the only way that millions of people will be able to afford this life-saving equipment. In the UK, Pace4Life collects functioning pacemakers from funeral parlours for use in India. In a similar effort, the journal Annals of Internal Medicine recently published the results of a US programme called Project My Heart Your Heart, which found that 75 patients who received second-hand ICDs showed no evidence of infection or malfunction. The group is now applying for FDA approval to send recycled heart devices overseas.
Back in Nashville, Standing With Hope has adopted a similar approach by shipping prosthetic limbs to Ghana.