Rotary Sending Used Pacemakers to Guatemala


Sunday, July 24,1983
By Herald Staff
Miami Herald

In an unusual charity drive to save lives in Guatemala, the Key Biscayne Rotary Club is collecting used heart pacemakers and shipping them south. When pacemaker patients die, their battery packs are not reused in the United States. In Central America, however, they are used again, said Chuck Lipcon, a Miami lawyer who heads the club’s pacemaker drive.

Last week the Cordis Corp., a Miami Lakes medical supplies firm, donated two new pacemakers worth several thousand dollars each to launch the campaign, Lipcon said.

The pacemakers are going to doctors in Guatemala City for patients who cannot afford to buy them, Lipcon said. “People are dying down there because they can’t get pacemakers,” Lipcon said. “What this country considers its throw away or garbage [is welcome there],” he said.

Dr. Michael Ozner, chief of cardiology at Baptist Hospital in Kendall, said battery packs are not reused by American doctors because of potential liability. Ozner, who is not involved in the Rotary project, said the packs have been sent to impoverished countries in the past.