I grew up on a West Texas cattle ranch and darling, I knew how to conserve and be “green” long before it became a popular politically correct lifestyle choice. Normally, when people talk about going green, I’ve got no problem. If someone wants a house with solar power, then hey, I’m no “green” fanatic but I say go for it; get off the grid and put the money back in your pocket. (My dream house is still one which is solar and wind powered so I never have to pay an electric bill again.) But, every once in a while, I hear a “green” idea being promoted which makes me take a step back and ask “What are you smoking in that pipe?”
The issue that caused my southern sensibilities to hackle up and take notice is the concept of recycling pacemakers. Now, pacemakers are really useful devices that save lives. Implanted in your chest, pacemakers help to regulate your heartbeat. They operate off a battery that lasts about five to seven years (must be a little pink Energizer bunny battery). Since they’re implanted in your chest, they remain in place until surgically removed. Of course, the condition that caused you to need a pacemaker in the first place isn’t likely to go away so once you have a pacemaker, you’re in it for life (no pun intended).
Pacemakers can be expensive. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, the cost for an outpatient pacemaker implantation is about $2,000 plus the cost of a pacemaker. (I did find a place on Google that sells “discount” pacemakers for $5,400 but not certain I’d want the bargain-basement version keeping the rhythm for me.) If you’re unlucky enough to need an inpatient procedure (that is, an overnight stay in the hospital), then be prepared to go ahead and have the heart attack and get it over with while you’re there. Why? Because, the inpatient fees for a pacemaker are a sin. Estimates for inpatient procedure ranged from $45,000 to $60,000 U.S. dollars. (Now, do you see why I said the fees were a sin? Good night nurse! I could do a heck of a remodel for that kind of dough.) Even with insurance, these fees can be hard to swallow or pay for.
About three million people worldwide currently have pacemakers.