Sheldon and Marion Davis unveil a plaque June 9 that will hang outside the new pacemaker recycling center at World Medical Relief, 21725 Melrose Ave., as Dr. Thomas Crawford, project leader for the program, looks on.

Sheldon and Marion Davis unveil a plaque June 9 that will hang outside the new pacemaker recycling center at World Medical Relief, 21725 Melrose Ave., as Dr. Thomas Crawford, project leader for the program, looks on.

Photo by Donna Agusti


World Medical Relief opens first-ever pacemaker recycling center

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published June 13, 2018

SOUTHFIELD — A team of local medical professionals is turning trash into lifesaving treasure with the recent opening of the world’s first pacemaker recycling center. 

The new Sheldon and Marion Davis Pacemaker Recycling Center made its debut June 9 at World Medical Relief, 21735 Melrose Ave. 

World Medical Relief is an international humanitarian organization that takes donations of medical supplies and disperses them internationally. It also offers affordable prescription drug programs. 

The new pacemaker recycling center will be the home of Project My Heart Your Heart, which is the first pacemaker refurbishment and recycling program in the world, officials said. 

Project My Heart Your Heart worked in partnership with World Medical Relief to develop a program to refurbish pacemakers and make them available to low-income patients in underdeveloped countries. 

World Medical Relief Director of Development and Community Affairs Josephine Jabara said that before Project My Heart Your Heart came to life, used pacemakers were usually recycled or disposed of. 

Under the leadership of Dr. Kim Eagle, director of the University of Michigan’s Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center, and Dr. Thomas Crawford, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Michigan Medicine Cardiology, all aspects of pacemaker reuse were scientifically researched and approved by the Food and Drug Administration for export and use outside of the United States.

Now they can be given new life, Jabara said. 

“The used pacemakers come to us first, and then they go through a real rigorous process. They are wiped, sanitized and tested for battery life,” she said. “Sometimes, if they are not considered to be viable, they are recycled, but if it has more battery life, a whole slew of testing takes place, with more sanitation and sterilization.”

Eagle, who created Project My Heart Your Heart, said the organization has already helped countless people. 

“Through our national partnership with Implant Recycling, we have already received nearly 30,000 pacemakers from around the country,” Eagle said in a written statement. “Thanks to the work of Dr. Crawford, we have developed an international partnership with the Pan African Cardiac Society that trains African pacemaker implanters in South Africa, who then go home to their native countries and perform these procedures — potentially saving countless lives.”

Jabara said that around 1.2 million people in developing countries die each year because they don’t have access to a pacemaker. 

The recycling process costs about $300, she said, while the most inexpensive new pacemaker can cost around $2,500. 

“Because we get messages via social media all the time saying, ‘My father is dying; his heart is only beating 30 beats per minute. Can you help?’ That’s where World Medical Relief comes in,” she said. 

World Medical Relief President Dr. George Samson called the program a “miracle of mercy.”

“We are saving those devices and in turn saving lives. This is the first and only project of its kind, right here in Southfield, and we’re happy to go about that,” Samson said. 

For more information, go to worldmedicalrelief.org.