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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

BBC – Future – What happens to prosthetics and implants after you die?

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I am acutely aware of global health disparities.  For example, for every American who receives a prosthetic or implant….I often wonder how many folks worldwide do without…

BBC – Future – What happens to prosthetics and implants after you die?.

Excerpts

Millions of prosthetics, breast implants, and pacemakers now exist – so what happens to all these augmentations when their owners die or no longer need them? Frank Swain investigates.

Under the watchful eye of the prison guards at Metro Davidson County Detention Facility, half a dozen inmates in blue overalls are wrestling with prosthetic legs. They strip each one down into a collection of screws, bolts, connectors, feet and other components. The prison workshop is home to a collaboration with Standing With Hope, a US charity based in Nashville, Tennessee that recycles unwanted prosthetic limbs for the developing world. The disassembled legs will be shipped to Ghana, where locally trained clinicians will rebuild them to fit patients there.

These legs will get a second life, but other types of prosthetics and implants usually face a different destiny. What to do with augmented human parts when they are no longer needed – often due to the owner’s death – is an increasingly common issue. Modern medicine offers a litany of replacement parts, from whole limbs to metal hips, shoulders and joints. Then there are pacemakers and internal cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), as well as more common augmentations like dentures and silicone breast implants. What happens to these augmentations when someone dies?

Once removed, implants are typically discarded – both the European Union and the US, among others, have rules that forbid the reuse of implanted medical devices. However, there is a growing trend to recover them for use in the developing world.

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March 13, 2014 - Posted by | Health News Items | , , ,

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