‘Life vest’ saves Fort Wayne man’s life

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – February is American Heart Month. A Fort Wayne patient is thanking researchers for their work in developing a vest that acts as a defibrillator.

“Without that vest on, I wouldn’t be here today,” says Thomas Same.

Same went to bed one night not feeling right. He went to a Parkview Hospital the next day.

“I couldn’t catch my breath, getting my full breath going. And I was there for about four or five days,” he explains.

Doctors diagnosed Same with congestive heart failure.

“Congestive heart failure is a clinical syndrome where the heart can’t pump blood forward. There’s lots of causes, but the pump is broken,” says Dr. Mark O’Shaughnessy, a cardiologist at Parkview Heart Institute.

Dr. O’Shaughnessy says anyone with a heart injury is at risk for irregular heart rhythms, that includes Same.

“The problem is we can’t predict who it’s going to happen to, and when it does happen it’s a fatal event,” says Dr. O’Shaughnessy.

After leaving the hospital, Same was given a LifeVest, essentially a wearable defibrillator.

“It watches his heart rhythm. If he has bad heart rhythms it will either try to pace him out of it. Or, it will shock him out of it,” says Dr. O’Shaughnessy.

And the vest came into action when Same went back to work.

“I was kind of dizzy, and I started falling down. And there was a guy I work with that kind of caught me before I hit the ground. And I really don’t remember much more than that, until I woke up a couple minutes later,” says Same.

What Same and Dr. O’Shaughnessy do know, is the vest worked exactly how it should have, and saved Same’s life.

“I wouldn’t be here without it.”

Same’s shortness of breath is one of many signs of heart issues. Dr. O’Shaughnessy says it’s important to know your risk factors, and keep an eye on heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs.

To learn more about heart health, click here.

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