This has been a question asked many times. Generally as funeral directors they are disposed of by specialised clinical waste companies or we take them back to our local hospitals. However both options are either costly or becoming more and more unavailable as hospitals (like my local hospital in Tunbridge Wells) stop removing pacemakers in their mortuary and therefore have no means of disposing of them.
9 times out of 10 we remove the pacemaker in our mortuary and thereby the onus of responsibility to dispose of them correctly falls on us, the Funeral Director.
I have over the past few months been in touch with Heart Hospitals, Heart Charities and manufacturers of the pacemakers to see if there was some way of recycling these devices but it’s not something we do here in the UK, these devices are just destroyed. This got me thinking about overseas charities and I stumbled upon a charity called Healing Little Hearts (www.healinglittleheart.org.uk). The founder of this charity is a Consultant Paediatrician at University Hospital Leicester, Dr Nichani Sanjiv and he takes medical teams to India to perform lifesaving surgery on children whose families can’t afford medical care. (google ‘BBC – Three Leicester people maintain their ties with India’ for more information on his work.) I contacted Dr Sanjiv Nichani who was delighted with the idea of recycling our pacemakers; although Sanjiv himself works with the children in the hospital he has spoken with his medical colleagues who take care of the very poorest patients that come into the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai and the Government Hospital, King Edward Medical College and the pacemakers we send will be used to change their lives. Dr Nichani said “I will be passing the pacemakers on to my Adult Cardiology colleagues in Mumbai, in particular
Dr Brian Pinto who is the Lead Adult Cardiologist at the Holy Family Hospital Mumbai and the Holy Spirit Hospital Mumbai, a sister Hospital run under the auspices of the Vatican. Dr Pinto is the person who is responsible for Healing Little Hearts adopting the Holy Family Hospital as its BASE for our Charity Work 3 years ago and was very excited when I mentioned the possibility of getting these pacemakers. He has pledged to use them solely for the poorest patients that he and his colleagues treat. In addition Dr Pinto and many of his colleagues are former alumni of the Government Hospital King Edward Medical College and already have a well-established pathway whereby similar pacemakers from the US are used in this and other Government Hospitals serving the poorest patients in the Indian Society” So having found a charity I thought why not make this bigger than a few Kent members, why not roll this out nationally. SAIF has over 1000 funeral homes as members, if we all join in what a difference we can make.
Mr John Kersley of Advance Sales UK, Logistics Solution Service Providers Incorporating Cremated Remains Transport Services, who is based in Bognor Regis and a SAIF Associate Member (www.advancedsalesuk.com) has stepped in and provided us with a package to post your pacemakers from your branch to Leicester; Arran Brudenell from Anstey & District Funeral Services will be the collection point for the charity as they are based very close to the Leicester Hospital. Dr Nichani will then take them out to his colleague in the community hospitals in India.
So what do you need to do – It so easy! . Make a note of the deceased name and pacemaker registration number (printed on the pacemaker) for your records, place a duplicate of this form in an envelope attached to the front of the parcel. This duplicate will be signed by Dr Ninchani and sent back to you as a record of receipt (paperwork for this will be available through SAIF head office).
Pack the Pacemakers in a Cardboard carton, or large padded envelope dependant on quantity with sufficient cushioning such as bubble wrap or shredded paper for example and address it for the attention of Dr Sanjiv Nichani c/o Anstey & District Funeral Services Talbott House Leicester Rd Anstey Leicester LE7 7AT .
Email John Kersley at Advance Sales UK on email@example.com with the heading PACEMAKER COLLECTION PLEASE and John will be in touch. He is prepared to do this service for packages up to 10kg in weight for a minimal cost of £10.00 plus fuel surcharge at 10% and VAT giving a total cost of just £13.20 anywhere within the UK.
As a matter of course we shall inform our families that the pacemakers will be recycled through this amazing charity and ask them to sign a permission slip allowing us to send it on their behalf, I strongly recommend you do the same. SAIF will be issuing a small leaflet about Dr Sanjiv Ninchani and the work he and his colleagues do for you to give to your client. I believe this gesture provides a small legacy for the deceased as well as allowing us, the Funeral Director, to give the precious gift of Life to many. Jo Parker, Abbey Funeral Services, Tonbridge, Kent. www.abbeyfuneralservices.co.uk