Nurse Launches Donation Program that Collects and Recycles Used Pacemakers for Pets in Need

  • Terri Matula and her husband lost their beloved dog twenty years ago when they couldn’t afford the pacemaker that their pup needed.
  • Now that Matula works as a cardiovascular nurse, she learned that the pacemakers that save human lives can help dogs as well.
  • She has since launched a donation program that collects and recycles used pacemakers from human patients to help pets in need.

Twenty years ago, Terri Matula and her husband’s beloved cocker spaniel, Gator, suffered from an urgent third-degree heart blockage.

As the couple were still both college students at the time, they couldn’t afford the $3,000 pacemaker that their pup desperately needed.

Now that Matula works as a cardiovascular nurse at the Navicent Health center in Macon, Georgia, she has been helping sick humans and pets alike for around 17 years.

When Matula’s husband was due for a pacemaker upgrade back in 2017, she asked if she could keep the old pacemaker for an animal in need.

Matula explained, “The similarities between how animals and humans are treated for certain diseases are very strong. When I was studying to become a nurse 20 years ago, I learned that pacemakers for human beings could be utilized in dogs, as well.”

She recounted, “I asked his cardiology team if I could keep the pacemaker after they replaced it and then called the University of Georgia to find out if I could donate the device to the College of Veterinary Medicine.”

The successful donation inspired Matula to start collecting and recycling the medical devices to help animals in need.

In February 2018, Matula launched the Pacemaker Donation Program, which coordinates Navicent Health with the university.

Beth Mann, vice president for cardiovascular services and nursing strategy at Navicent, explained, “When a patient’s pacemaker is exchanged, upgraded or replaced, the patient is offered the option of donating their used device to the Pacemaker Donation Program. Everyone – our staff and our patients – has been excited to save the lives of animals with reusable devices.”

Navicent clarified that only the pacemakers of living donors are used for the program.

The university has since received 41 pacemakers, most of which still have at least five and a half years of battery life remaining. The donated devices allow aging dogs to still enjoy physical activities.

Meanwhile, pacemakers with less battery life are used as teaching tools for the university’s veterinary students.

Gregg Rapaport, a veterinary cardiologist at the university, pointed out, “Each donated pacemaker that has benefited a person will now have benefited a dog, as well. The same resource will have positively impacted twice as many lives with no downside to anyone, and we can all feel good about that.”

Patients who are due for a pacemaker replacement and wish to participate in the Pacemaker Donation Program may contact their Navicent Health care providers for more information.

You can watch the news story in the video below.


Source: Good News Network


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