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Spring renewal: University of Michigan helps give medical equipment a second life

Used CPAP machines, pacemakers can be given to U-M Health System for refurbishment and distribution

With an initial donation from Roger Chard, right, Dr.
Helena Schotland created the Michigan CPAP Bank.

 ANN ARBOR, Mich. - To Roger Chard, the idea was simple. During a routine check-up, he took his old CPAP machines back to the hospital with the hope that another patient might be able to use the equipment.   To Helena Schotland, M.D., a University of Michigan assistant professor of internal medicine and Chard’s doctor, the idea was brilliant.   Because Chard was getting a different CPAP machine to help him breathe at night, he didn’t need the used, but still functional equipment he had at home. Schotland realized there must be other patients with older, unused CPAP machines lying around their homes that could be refurbished and given to those who need them.   With Chard’s machines serving as the initial donation, Schotland created the Michigan CPAP bank, located at the U-M Sleep Center. The program checks, cleans and redistributes unused CPAP equipment to patients who otherwise might not have access.   CPAP machines are often given to patients with sleep apnea and other conditions that make breathing during sleep difficult.   Medical devices, including pacemakers, can be sterilized and refurbished for use by patients in need, whether they live in Michigan or abroad.   Schotland says many patients who need CPAP machines don’t have the necessary durable medical equipment insurance coverage to receive the equipment. Other patients who do not meet their insurance company’s specifications for sleep apnea can have a hard time getting the necessary equipment, which costs at least $400 without insurance.    “This program gives back to the community,” Schotland says. “We’re here to provide care to our patients, and sometimes they just need an extra hand. They’ve come here, they’ve done the tests and studies, but if we can’t help them, then what’s the point?”   U-M’s MedEQUIP has helped clean of six devices that were distributed to patients.   Chard says he’s happy his simple gesture triggered a much larger effort to help patients who need CPAP machines.   “Poor sleep is a wide spread and much misunderstood problem,” he says. “Dr. Schotland has formulated a plan that takes advantage of usable but no longer in service machines, allows sleep problems to be addressed in a very concrete manner, and that directly benefits a population in need.”    ‘My Heart - Your Heart’ While Chard and Schotland have helped establish a destination for old CPAP equipment, other items such as pacemakers can also be donated to the U-M Health System.    The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center has partnered with funeral directors of Michigan and World Medical Relief, Inc., to collect pacemakers, after they are removed for burial or cremation, for sterilization and reuse across the globe.   Poor nations have not been able to afford the electrophysiology technology that has reduced cardiac deaths in industrialized nations, while unhealthy lifestyle, as well as infectious diseases, contribute to escalating rates of heart disease worldwide.   Small humanitarian efforts have shown reusing pacemakers, devices that help regulate a slow or irregular heartbeat, is safe and effective with little risk of infection and patients live as long, and as well, with a recycled pacemaker as those who get new ones.    Still in the research phase, the ultimate goal of the program is to attain FDA approval and begin clinical trials on benefits of recycling pacemakers. # # #   Resources: Michigan CPAP Bank: visit the U-M Sleep Center, or call 734-936-9068 My Heart, Your Heart:

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