When I was going in to get my pacemaker/ defibrillator implanted in last January (2008) we were aware that a bunch had recently been recalled because the leads (the wires that link the machine to your actuall heart muscle) were bad and failing. This was terrifying to me then, and they assured me that my leads were not the ones in question on my way into the operating room.
Medtronic, the company who makes my pacemaker / defibrillator (my Kicker as I call it) has a big problem on their hands though… what about all of these people who had bad leads implanted into their hearts? When I got my Kicker I was told that they never remove it because the procedure of pulling the leads out of the heart muscle is too risky. When they implant the leads, they actually stick them into the heart through a vein and they wait for scar tissue to deveop around it to hold them in place. This is true for three places in my heart. I had to sit up for a day after the implantation so that the leads would take hold and scar tissue would form properly (“just what I need” I thought at the time, “more scar tissue”).
I feel terrified for the people who must undergo a surgery like this to replace “bad wires”. Awful stuff.