Last week saw a medical organisation from Leipzig, “Herzschrittmacher für Ostafrika” e.V. (pacemaker for East Africa) partner with the Kenyatta National Hopsital to implant 40 pacemakers for free to Kenyans suffering from heart conditions.
According to Julia Fürstenhoff, “We work with two doctors who work at the KNH, who shortlist the patients, who we later approve if they meet our criteria. Then we set up an appointment for the surgeries”.
The project started 5 years ago and involves doctors from Göttingen, Bielefeld and Leipzig. Each year the team travels to Kenya twice where they offer free pacemakers and perform the surgeries for free at the KNH to at least 40 patients. The team has so far helped more than 200 patients.
The doctors agree that the project is important because the pacemakers are much cheaper in Germany than in Kenya, where the price is at least 10 times higher. This makes the price unaffordable to many.
The group of doctors who currently get sponsorship from well wishers use new pacemakers. However, they plan to recycle old pacemakers that may be donated to the organisation. Considering there is no company that sterilizes pacemakers for reuse in Germany, they plan to send them to England. These will then be implanted in those patients in Kenya.
“It’s possible for devices that had a short life in patients’ and were removed either due to an infection or due to death. We plan to collect such devices, in case we no longer have major sponsors to finance the new pacemakers we currently use”, Dr. Richter commented. “If the devices are completely sterial, they can still work for about ten years in the new patient”, he added.
The next session is planned for summer this year. The organisation has already collected 150 pacemakers from clinics, well wishers and hospitals in Leipzig.
The team was featured on Ebru Africa last week, you can watch them below.