One of the most popular questions when considering cremation as an option is “Do you need to remove a pacemaker prior to cremation?” The answer is simple: Yes. This is because certain parts of the pacemaker, when subject to intense heat, may explode and damage the crematory chamber or injure the personnel working. At Neptune Society, we adhere strictly to standard procedures so that the cremation process can be carried out without potential problems.
Why is the pacemaker removed during cremation?
Some of our loved ones who passed away may have worn implanted devices such as the pacemaker. Implanted devices create possible problems during the cremation process – it could be the lithium battery or the sealant that may cause an explosion. The repairs on the crematory chamber can be very expensive. In the same way, jewelry and other personal belongings are removed and returned to the family if requested to be placed in the container with the beloved one’s ashes.
Who removes the pacemaker?
Neptune Society’s trained professionals remove the pacemaker and other implanted devices such as Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators (ICDs) and prostheses. There is no need for the medical doctor to perform the removal. Please inform the staff prior to cremation that your loved one is wearing a pacemaker because its removal is an essential and compulsory procedure.
How is it removed?
Pacemakers and ICDs are removed by morticians by using several different methods. While the pacemaker is generally safe, there is a possibility of electrical shock when removing ICDs if the device is not turned off. Therefore, the doctor or the manufacturer must be contacted in order to shut off the device before removal from the patient. Other methods include deactivating the ICD magnet and unscrewing both the shock lead and the sensing lead.
When is it removed?
In order to proceed with the cremation process, the family or relatives of the deceased should discuss with Neptune Society about removal of the pacemaker prior to the cremation process. They should also provide consent as to whether to donate the pacemaker or to send it back to the manufacturer for recycling.
Where does the pacemaker go after it is removed?
When the pacemaker is removed from your loved one’s body, another question arises: What happens to the pacemaker when it is removed prior to cremation? The pacemaker, just like many implanted devices, can be donated or recycled. While the lithium batteries may pose environmental hazards, the metals can be reused for medical research. In some countries, pacemakers are simply buried. Again, it’s best to consult with the staff at Neptune Society regarding your decisions on what to do with your loved one’s pacemaker.
Special thanks to Laura Anderson, location manager of Neptune Society Minneapolis for her support and contributions to this post.