What an amazing time we live in -- human pacemakers can save our family pets.
Dr. Becky Gompf shows a pacemaker donated to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine that will be used for animal implantation. UT performs about six pacemaker surgeries a year, and the center is believed to be the only facility in the state to offer such a service. (PHOTO BY J. MILES CARY/NEWS SENTINEL)
Human pacemakers used to save pets' lives
UT veterinary cardiologists implant human pacemakers into dogs, cats
UT is the only vet hospital in the state certified to implant human pacemakers in animals. Pacemakers specifically made for animals have yet to be developed.
The UT vet hospital outfits about six pacemakers a year in dogs and cats.
Gompf said UT first implanted pacemakers in animals in the early 1980s. She said that pacemakers were first outfitted in animals in the 1970s.
Gompf said that fewer than 400 human pacemakers are implanted in animals — mostly dogs and cats — in the United States each year.
The pacemakers in the UT bank come from several sources.
Some are donated by area hospitals after the pacemakers outlive their shelf life for humans. Other pacemakers are taken from corpses and donated to UT by family members.