5 Puerto Ricans With Alzheimer's Implanted With Microchips to Track Disease

Five Puerto Ricans with Alzheimer's disease had microchips implanted in their forearms Thursday to provide data about their medical condition and ways to contact their caretakers.

The microchip costs US$200, is voluntary and is made by the Florida-based Verichip Corp. Four hospitals in the U.S. Caribbean territory plan to begin using them in August on patients who have significant health problems or illnesses that cause memory loss, El Nuevo Dia newspaper has reported.

"We intend to help the relatives of these patients feel more secure when they stay alone or under the care of other people," said Awilda Sidanes, president of the Alzheimer's Federation of Puerto Rico. "This gives emotional support to everyone."

The microchip contains data such as the patients' medical histories, medicines they take and the contact information for their doctors and caretakers, Sidanes said.

VeriChip is the only company with U.S. federal approval to implant such chips in people. The company has implanted more than 2,500 people worldwide with chips that give hospitals access to their identification, which is used to retrieve medical information from an Internet database.

In February, a Cincinnati surveillance equipment company became the first U.S. business to allow employees to get chip implants to enter secure rooms. Some employees in the Mexico attorney general's office have also been implanted with chips for this use.

Felipe Lopez Colon, an 82-year-old former baseball player, was one of the microchip recipients in the southern town of Guayama.

"We put the microchip in him so we can be sure that if he becomes disoriented when he goes out, that he's not going to get lost and we can be contacted," his wife Antonia Lassus said.