Thursday, July 4, 2019

Cardiologist tracks down cadavers with pacemakers and arranges for them to be removed and sent to India

“I call up the funeral homes. Every week when I have nothing better to do, instead of golfing, I call and find out if they have devices,” he said. If they do, he asks permission from the family to have a mortician remove the device from the body.

If he gets a pacemaker, Masacarenhas washes off the blood and tissue and sterilizes it in an antimicrobial solution. Then he measures the remaining battery life on the device, in hopes that there will be at least five years left on it that someone can use. “And then once I do that, I put them in a package and send them to India,” he said.


Putting pacemakers in the mail isn’t an option, Masacarenhas said, because they could get stolen or end up in the hands of customs officers. So Masacarenhas said he usually asks people he knows if they can carry them for him to Mumbai. He advises them on how to package the device so it doesn’t look shady to TSA employees. “If you put them in the middle of the suitcase they can look like a bomb because they're closed circuit,” he said.


There's just one catch to the Robin Hood-ing: this whole thing isn't exactly legal.