As we enter the 21st century, the healthcare disparities between the industrialized world and those in underserved nations have become all too apparent. Cardiovascular disease has an increasing impact on morbidity and mortality in many developing countries, many of which already face a disproportionate burden of infections leading to abnormalities of the conduction system. Novel methods of delivering costly electrophysiological healthcare to impoverished nations are needed.
My Heart Your Heart is a collaboration between citizens, physicians, and funeral directors in the state of Michigan, the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, World Medical Relief, and teaching hospitals in the Philippines, Vietnam, Ghana, and Nicaragua.
The purpose of the project is to create a central organization that obtains pacemakers post-mortem for evaluation and subsequent sterilization while creating a distribution network for safe reuse. Our goal is to create a reproducible model that other academic centers in the United States and Europe can emulate in order to create their own collaborative network for refurbished device distribution to those unable to afford bradycardia arrhythmia therapy. Thus far, Project My Heart Your Heart has received more than 15,000 used devices, has completed pilot projects in several countries, and presented and published numerous abstracts and papers related to this work.
Project My Heart Your Heart received FDA approval this year to begin a randomized, multi-center study to prove that post-mortem pacemaker reutilization can be shown to be a safe means of delivering care to patients in low and middle income countries without resources. Countries participating in this study include the Philippines, Ghana, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone. The goal is to gain IRB approval and begin initial preparations for the clinical trial by the end of the year.