Mumbai: In Covid times, pacemaker queers last rites | Mumbai News

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MUMBAI: Doctors at Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar, were faced with a peculiar dilemma when they received a body with a pacemaker on Friday morning. The man had died at home, but nobody was willing to remove the pacemaker, as his Covid status was unknown. In regular circumstances, any doctor would have made a tiny cut and removed the device before cremation, but Covid-19 makes things tricky, reports Sumitra Deb Roy.
Dr Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent of the hospital, said that the family had brought the body to the hospital as no doctor was willing to touch the body to remove the pacemaker. “One issue was that nobody was willing to remove the device and the second dilemma was whether the body could be cremated in an incinerator,” said Thakur.
What followed were a number of frantic phone calls to a cardiologist, forensic experts, a pulmonologist and even a pacemaker company.
“Everyone said the device must be removed before the body was placed in an incinerator. However, there were some who said if the body was cremated on a wooden pyre, it probably wouldn’t lead to an explosion,” said Dr Thakur. At the time of going to press, TOI couldn’t confirm what happened with the remains.
Dr Prafulla Kerkar, head of KEM Hospital’s cardiology department, said that removing the pacemaker before cremation is the usual norm as the fear is the device could explode under intense heat. “Previously, KEM used to reuse pacemakers and, therefore, even got many donations. However, that trend no longer exists,” he said.
Forensic expert Dr Shailesh Mohite said Covid-19 had created a dilemma over conducting the last rites of those with pacemakers.



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