Posted on 02/23/2011

Columbus man got the jolt of his life, literally, when the defibrillator he was wearing kicked in and saved his life.

He’s the first person on record to be rescued by this device in Columbus, according to Zoll Medical Corporation, the company that makes the device. It’s revolutionary, yet not many doctors are prescribing it.

Sharon Scruggs got used to the familiar beeping around the Christmas holiday season. But when she heard a piercing sound, sound, she knew her husband Larry was in trouble. “And boy did I go running. And when I got there I mean he was slumped over, he was sitting there slumped over.”

Larry’s heart had stopped. He has a condition called arrhythmia, or his heart has an abnormal rhythm.  “I’m unconscious on the floor and it hit me and I came back to about the time my wife got the EMS on the phone.”

He saw a doctor just days before Christmas. He did not want to spend Christmas in the hospital, he wanted to spend it at home with his grandchildren.  His doctor released him under one condition. “Dr. Miller suggested that if I was going to leave the hospital, I needed that vest.”

The doctor prescribed the LifeVest. Larry was wearing one when his heart stopped. The device delivered ashock to his heart, which restored normal rhythm. But you cannot touch the patient while it’s happening. “I think that was probably the hardest thing I ever did was to back up and just let him crash and fall,” says his wife Sharon.

She called 911. An ambulance arrived within minutes. Larry was taken to St. Francis Hospital for follow up. His physicianDr. George Miller says the LifeVest is a lifesaver. “We probably should use it more than we have been but I think its becoming more popular as the word gets out.”

The Lifevest has been prescribed to more than 30-thousand patients, who like Larry were primary candidates for the device. “Poor ventricular function, less than 35 percent of those patients are at increased risk for having sudden cardiac death,” says his doctor, Cardiologist George Miller.

“If I hadn’t had the vest on it’s doubtful we’d be having this conversation today,” Larry says. Larry says the wearable defibrillator or LifeVest is easy to wear. The patient keeps it on except in the shower. The patient wears it for one to three months or until a permanent device can be surgically implanted in the patient. Larry now has his pacemaker, but he can never forget the LifeVest. “Unless you’re close to a defibrillator your chance of survival decreases immediately.”

SOURCE: WRBL Channel 3 and Zoll Medical Corporation