Free replacement: Wieland and Ulrike looking at the new mechanical heart controller at IJN.
KUALA LUMPUR: A German national lost his “heart” in Malacca – but there was nothing romantic about it.
Udo Wieland, 63, who survives on an external mechanical heart, had his spare mechanical heart controller and batteries stolen by snatch thieves.
His wife Ulrike Wieland, 60, had been carrying the device in her handbag when it was snatched by the two thieves on a motorcycle on Saturday night.
“We were heading to a restaurant for dinner and I was walking about one metre in front of my wife.
“I suddenly heard her scream, and when I turned around she was lying on the ground, crying – I thought she had been hit by a car,” said Wieland, a retired insurance firm director, when met at the National Heart Institute (IJN) yesterday.
Ulrike escaped with a cut on her elbow, but lost her wallet and mobile phone which were in the bag.
Their immediate worry, however, was to replace the mechanical heart device.
Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Datuk Dr Mohamed Ezani Md Taib said the stolen device, which could cost up to RM150,000, would be useless to the thieves but could cause great harm to the patient who lost it.
“As long as the primary device is working well, there is no problem. But if there is a malfunction, it can stop working immediately.
“That is why patients always need to carry a spare controller and batteries with them,” he said, adding that there were about 20 people surviving on external mechanical hearts in Malaysia.
The couple lodged a report at the Malacca Tengah police station before calling the device supplier to find out where they could get an immediate replacement.
The couple rushed to IJN yesterday and got the stolen device replaced for free as they were covered by insurance during their maiden visit to Malaysia.
Malaysia and Singapore are the only countries in the region equipped to deal with this technology.