Special Assignment

Life saving vest is giving new hope to heart patients

CREATED May 5, 2014

  • Print
  • Play

Tyler Harris almost didn't live to see the new year. That's why he is so grateful to his nurse practioner, who convinced him to test out a new medical device called a 'life vest.'

"Instead of their family planning a funeral, they got to plan Christmas dinner," she said.  

Tyler suffered a heart attack December 1st that damaged his heart muscles so completely he was going to need a defibrilator implanted into his chest, but medical guidelines require you wait at least 40 days for the surgery. So to bridge that gap, Tyler wore the life vest day and night. With sensors, it monitored his heart and there are paddles to initiate a shock if necessary.  

"It it wasn't for this I probably wouldn't be around because no one was actually around me or with me at the time it went off," Tyler said.  

That's because Tyler was driving his truck on a remote stretch of road just two weeks after his first heart attack.  He felt dizzy and pulled over, and then the life vest took over.  

"I got out of the truck and I was sitting on the bank of the ditch calling 9-1-1, and the box started talking to me," he recalled.

An ambulance arrived and took Tyler to the hospital. Soon after, the doctors reviewed the monitor recordings. Tyler's healthcare providers figured he would be in critical care when they went to see him at the hospital, but the life vest prevented further damage to his heart.  

For Tyler, he's just glad he was one of the first to use the vest.  

"Its an eye opening experience because its a life changing experience because you know when you realize that now you have another chance at life," he said.

Tyler now has a permanent defibrilator in his chest, and can play on his softball team again.