(CNN) – More than 20 years ago, Terry Matula Hunt Gator spent herself while her husband was walking.
They took gator to the vet and learned that he had a third-degree heart pad and needed a pacemaker. However, they are both students at the time and cannot afford one.
"That's urgent arrhythmia," Mattula said. "If a person has that kind of pad, within 24 hours they have a pacemaker."
Now a nurse, Mattula – who has worked in cardiology for about 17 years – has started a donation program to recycle used pacemakers to help animals like her old friend, Gator.
"I get a lot of arrhythmia patients and it is a lot of pacemaker work," Matula said. "Explant pacemakers are normally thrown in."
She recycled her husband's pacemaker
Two years ago, Matella's husband had to get a new pacemaker after his heart had progressed. But remembering Gator, who died years ago, Matula held his old pastemaker in the hope of giving it to someone in need.
She contacted the University of Georgia's Veterinary School, which helped one of her other dogs.
"I have this new device. Are you interested in it?" She told them.
Calling for UGA and Navicent Health, which includes the Macon Hospital, Georgia, where Mattula works, partnering to recycle used pacemakers for use in dogs and other animals.
"Ultimately, what came out of this is a fantastic collaborative program," said Greg Rapoport, clinical assistant professor of cardiology at UGA's Veterinary Medicine College.
These devices are pricey
A pet pacemaker typically costs about $ 3,000 to $ 3,500, although a brand new pacemaker for a person can cost upwards of $ 8,000.
But animals can also use rulers when they're no longer needed by humans to help regulate heart rate.
"Technology is pretty much higher when most pioneers have left them for five years when we get them," Rapoport said.
UGA has received about 65 pseudemakers since the program officially started in February 2018, Mattula said.
It is now finishing its pacemaker inventory of another supplier and hopes to be fully reliant on the donors of Navicent by this time, Rapoport said.
"This was fantastic … and it's an incredibly appropriate relationship we've had with Navisent," said Rapoport.
UGA has received telephone calls from people over the place to ask how they can apologize for a pacemaker, but now Rapaport says UGA can only take those devices that are donated directly to Navicent.
She has already helped other dogs
One of the dogs who received a pacemaker by the program was a husky called agent copper, and it helped him survive thyroid cancer surgery.
It took him three years to live.
"It was just awesome, it filled with my heart," Mattula said, adding copper to her now running well.
Mattola and her husband currently own four dogs.
"I would like to do something for them," said the nurse.
"I know other pet owners that have the same love for their pets and … when you get a diagnosis that can be very scary, it's very hard, it's very emotional to think you might lose." Your animal and they are empty. "
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