A local cardiologist shows our Joyce Evans why he feels the need far outweighs the risk of collecting from the dead and recycling to the poor.
Most people rummage around their garage, looking for old stuff to sell or throw out, not doctor Daniel Neville Mascarenhas.
"These cost $200," he said while showing FOX 29 sticky pads for a defibrillator.
He found thousands more for a tissue sealing device, but they like everything else in here are marked expired just last month some older.
The FDA says he can't use them, can't sell them but his heart won't let him trash them. The devices can be used but not in this country.
"If we had some way of sterilizing these products, because it's essentially the packaging, We could use them two of three years more," he said.
The Lehigh Valley Cardiologist sends recently expired hospital equipment, supplies, even some medicine to foreign places in desperate need
"I don't think the expiration date really matters," he said.
He’s been at this for decades, but sending these used devices to his homeland India has raised eyebrows, along with plenty of donations, praise, and criticism.
He sends implanted pacemakers and defibrillators retrieved from patients who've expired but their heart devices have not.
Daniel says a lot of these get buried still ticking away while poor patients in India could never afford the seven to $28,000 one of these can cost.
"To whom much is given much is expected, as simple as that," Daniel told FOX 29.
No different from donating organs he says the recycled devices are signed over by families of the departed, through some doctors; even money is donated through a non-profit cardiac clinic Mascarenhas set up in his father's name in Goa, India.
"It's hope to the hopeless." he shared.
The devices get to him mostly by way of funerals homes even though they are supposed to be returned to the manufacturer.
"From the funeral home it has been cleaned," Daniel said.
Doctor Mascarenhas collects them then he checks for how much juice they have left.
"For a pacemaker at least 6 years, for a defibrillator at least 3 years," he said.
What about contamination? Daniel says all the working parts are tightly encased connecting leads and sutures removed.
"And if I do see blood here I will use that syringe to inject some bleach in that so that the blood will come out with the (household) bleach. I'll leave that overnight in this bath," Daniel said.
They’re bagged up ready for delivery, but it's illegal to ship these out of the country. So they are transported in the suitcases of people traveling to India.
"If you tell me you are going to Bombay I ask can you carry some devices for me," he added.
Sometimes they make it through customs. When they do, they are delivered to one of Dr, Mascarenhas' colleagues there.
No shortage of patients willing to take used devices that come with no guarantees.
"70% is pretty decent and for somebody who's dying, it's 100% toss up."
May sound macabre and skirting the laws a bit he says the need is far greater than any legal or medical risks.
"How can somebody who's dying not get this device? Ethically, not legally, but ethically," Daniel asks.
While there are few studies and follow-up he says the letters are enough for him.
For some people happiness is making money, for some people happiness if giving back and I've collected trash to give them life, that's even more fun."