Funeral home signs up to pacemaker recycling scheme

ANOTHER LIFE: Northallerton funeral director Owen Barthram with some of the pacemakers which are going to be recycled and sent to India

ANOTHER LIFE: Northallerton funeral director Owen Barthram with some of the pacemakers which are going to be recycled and sent to India

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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A FUNERAL parlour is helping solve the often overlooked problem of what to do with pacemakers removed from bodies prior to cremation.

In proof that death is no barrier to going green, Barthram Funeral Service in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, is taking part in an initiative to reuse cardiac pacemakers.

Currently funeral homes must remove them prior to bodies being cremated and the electrical equipment is then sent off to landfill.

But now undertakers Dale Scollay and Owen Barthram, who runs the funeral home on South Parade in the North Yorkshire town, will send them to Mumbai in India instead.

Mr Scollay said: “When a person is cremated in this country, we have to remove the pacemaker prior to cremation. Up to this point there’s been nowhere to send it.

“At the moment we send them to a company who deals with pacemakers and they simply go to landfill. There’s no purpose for them once they’ve been removed.

“We’ve been looking for years for ways to disposing of pacemakers in ways that would be of more use. This is the first time we’ve come across a situation where we can do that.”

The pacemakers will be taken out to India by a consultant paediatrician at the University Hospitals (CORRECT) of Leicester, Dr Nichani Sanjiv, who works with the Healing Little Hearts initiative.

The charity sends out specialist teams of children’s doctors and nurses from around the world to Mumbai, where many children are in urgent need of heart surgery.

Dr Sanjiv will then pass the pacemakers on to his colleague Dr Brian Pinto, who works in adult cardiology at the Holy Family Hospital and Holy Spirit Hospital in Mumbai.

The initiative requires a special logistics company to transport the pacemakers to Leicester, as the lithium batteries contained in them means they cannot be sent through traditional means of postage.

The funeral directors also first secure the permission of the relatives of the pacemaker’s donor before posting it out.

Mr Scollay said he hoped more funeral homes would part in the initiative.

“We expect to send out a dozen or so a year, but there are attempts to get this working on a national basis.

“It would be good to get all the local funeral directors to promote the scheme.”

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