Ongoing collaboration with Heartbeat International Foundation brings therapy solutions to patients in need
BERLIN, Germany, April 7, 2011—BIOTRONIK SE Co. & KG, a leading manufacturer of implantable cardiac devices, has provided a donation of implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD) and pacemaker device implants to more than 75 low-income and impoverished patients in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago as part of its collaboration with Heartbeat International Foundation Inc. (HBI).
Globally, one to three million people die each year because they cannot afford a pacemaker or ICD. Last year, BIOTRONIK joined HBI’s three-decades-long fight to save lives in impoverished countries by making a commitment to donate hundreds of cardiac devices to patients around the world.
In Trinidad and Tobago alone, as many as 150 people are on the waiting list for a cardiac device. While the country’s government healthcare system pays for many medical expenses, it does not cover the costs for these expensive cardiac devices. The price tag for a pacemaker implantation and device can be $3,000 to $8,000 USD—and up to $20,000 USD for an ICD. For residents of Trinidad and Tobago, the cost of an ICD implantation exceeds their per capita income—and is unreachable for the 17% of the population who live below the poverty line. Without outside help, most people who need pacemakers or ICDs would live seriously compromised lives or may die prematurely.
The true value of the donation comes from stories like that of Christine Bocus, who lives in Trinidad and Tobago. Christine is a 19-year-old student at the University of the West Indies, where she’s studying accounting. After being diagnosed with a heart condition, she received a pacemaker in 2006. Life was good until about six months ago, when the weakness and listlessness she experienced before receiving the first implant returned. Doctors explained that due to her active lifestyle, the first pacemaker’s battery was nearly used up and she needed a new cardiac device.
Christine’s family was unable to afford the device, the government health program didn’t cover it and even Heartbeat International did not have an adequate device available. Up until just a few months ago, Christine and her family were ready to give up hope. It was a terribly frustrating, but not uncommon situation for doctors and Heartbeat International officials. “It was difficult to know that someone could die whilst waiting for us,” said Basha Mohammed, Heartbeat International Director for the Caribbean.
Then Christine received what seemed like miraculous news. “We were called in and told that BIOTRONIK from Germany had donated pacemakers to Heartbeat International of Trinidad and Tobago, and I would get one,” she recalls. “I did not know whether to cry or laugh: Would this divine gift from BIOTRONIK save my life and answer my prayers?”
Doctors have now implanted the device in Christine’s chest. “The second implant has restored my normal life,” she said. “I am overjoyed and grateful. I have been given a new lease on life.”
“BIOTRONIK has a strong sense of caring for the global community,” commented Marlou Janssen, Global Vice President of Marketing and Sales at BIOTRONIK. “As a leading medical device company, we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that patients are not deprived of the care they need due to socioeconomic status. In the next three years, we intend to help Heartbeat International save more than a thousand lives by giving cardiac device donations to patients who would otherwise be financially excluded.”
About BIOTRONIK SE & Co. KG
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cardiovascular medical devices, with several million devices implanted, BIOTRONIK is represented in over 100 countries by its global workforce of over 5,600 employees. Known for having its finger on the pulse of the medical community, BIOTRONIK assesses the challenges physicians face, and provides the best solutions for all phases of patient care, ranging from diagnosis to treatment to patient management. Quality, innovation and reliability define BIOTRONIK and its growing success, and deliver confidence and peace of mind to physicians and their patients worldwide.
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