May 28, 2024

Romanian doctors harvested pacemakers from dead patients – and reused them

An occasional reminder that doctors are not exempt from participating in dark and dodgy get-rich-quick schemes might not go astray. The latest comes from Romania, where several cardiologists have been arrested for harvesting pacemakers and defibrillators from cadavers and re-using them in living patients.

The rort appears to have gone unnoticed for seven years. The doctors would pass off the devices as new and pocket the difference. As well, they would sometimes implant devices into patients who did not need them.

Prosecutors allege that Dr Dan Tesloianu, a 52-year-old cardiologist from St. Spiridon Hospital in the north-eastern city of Iasi, worked with four other doctors to identify sick patients and remove their devices after they died. It appears that there were 238 cases of pacemaker-snatching between 2017 and August 2022.  

Medical scandals are not uncommon in Romania, a country where corruption and inefficiency are rampant. However, this case has shocked doctors. “I’ve been practicing medicine for 30 years and this is beyond belief,”said Dan Coriu, the president of Romania’s Medical College.