Washington's first patient to get new wireless pacemaker

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 5, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

WiFi seems to be everywhere these days: at coffee shops, hotels, even busses. Now pacemakers have joined the club - sort of.  Meet the first man in the state to get one of the new wireless devices.

A few months ago John Daly was feeling anything but energetic.

"My heart started beating really slowly - in the 30s - so I didn't feel too hot. I was dragging around," he said.

He became the first patient in Washington to receive what looks like a pacemaker. It is with a difference. It comes with a bedside transmitter called Merlin that now keeps tabs on Daly's heart.

Dr. Derek Rodrigues implanted the new Accent pacemaker.

"The patient really doesn't have to do anything in an interactive way for this information to be transmitted. I think the other major advantage is that because of that the information can be obtained on a daily basis," said Rodrigues.

The wireless technology has been used in defibrillators, but is new to the world of pacemakers. Merlin transmits information as long as the patient is within 20 feet.

"I was told that it does it in the middle of the night, sometime around at 2 or 3. It doesn't wake me up or anything," said Daly.

All the activity occurs at this end, as the information is transmitted to the doctor's office.

"According to this, he's in the 60-70 range and he likes that place," said Rodrigues.

"I'm alive. I guess it's working fine. I can't tell anything about it except I feel better," said Daly.

Which is exactly the point.

"It's intended to be portable so the patient can travel anywhere in the country and still be able to have their device monitored," said Rodrigues.

So how much better is Daly feeling?

"Like getting a brand new car, I guess," said Daly.

Well, maybe not a new car, more like a tuned-up engine that keeps John Daly motoring through his day.

Unlike WiFi, the data from the accent pacemaker is secure. It won't get picked up at Starbucks or by your neighbor's garage-door opener.

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