Husband just died after getting a pacemaker

I don't want to scare anyone but my husband just died 16hrs after getting an Adapta DR Medtronic pacemaker installed. He had Sick Sinus Brachcardia (his heart only had problems when he was at rest. It would drop down to the teens, but worked fine when he was up a moving).
Here's my story. Eight years ago my husband was repeatedly complaining of not sleeping at night. Frustrated, I called his phys. and requested him to be tested by a sleep apnia cly. Well while in his phys. office he sat for so long waiting to get in apparently by the time the doc. got him in to check him over before he referred him he found him heart rate was in the 40s and was concerned. about 2 months later my husband was diagnosed with Sick Sinus Node and had a pacemaker implanted. He lived a great life with that pacemaker with little side effects. Well this year they told him he was due to get the replacement because the battery life was getting low. So on the 16th of August I took him to the hospital to get this low risk surgury done. He came home that night and was perfectly fine. He went to sleep in his recliner and I took my two children up to bed knowing that he would prefer to sleep in the chair because he was in pain from the surgury. Well the next morning my 7year old and my 4 year old woke before me because something was wrong with their daddy. He was dead! I feel it is my obligation to let all of you know that this happened to him. He was 39 years old and in perfect health. So far I've only been told that he went into a tachycardia at midnight. 12 different instances - then his heart stopped completely at 12:26. I still don't know why he died because the pacemaker was sent back to the manufacturer (medtronic) to test for defects! Can you believe they get to have their hands on this device and not an independant company! I am completely devastated and don't know what to do. I don't know if you all know, but I just found out that a pacemaker cannot start a stopped heart. Only a difibulator can do this. Has anyone else experienced something similar?
Jane
Please email me whitman.family@yahoo.com


32 Comments

My heartfelt sympathies.

by auntiesamm - 2007-09-10 11:09:35

Hello Jane,

My heart is aching right now for you and your children. I cannot even imagine what you are going through and what it was like for your babies to find their daddy in his chair as they did.

I am sorry but I'm at a loss for anything to say other than I am so very sorry. Do you have family nearby to be with you and your little ones? Is there a church family to support you? Right now I would like nothing more than to give you a great big hug and share the sorrow with you.

I am with you completely on the device being sent back to Medtronic for testing! This is stupidity at its best. Why not send it to another company or a person who could do a check on it. Many years ago - 1976 - my dad had a Cordis pacemaker. It was about the only one available and the size of a yo-yo. He was lying down resting and his heart just stopped. The doctors believed the pacemaker failed but no one thought to have it checked! Another example of stupidity. It would not help my dad but could make a difference in others lives who needed a pacemaker.

Thank you very much for making all of us aware of your husband's situation and death. Please stay in touch here and let us help you in any way possible. This is a wonderful, caring group of folks who I will all be saddened by your situation and loss of your husband. Again, I am so very, very sorry. I will ask the Lord to comfort you, give you peace and hold you in the palm of His hand.

Blessings,
Sharon

Add me to the List

by n2rnn - 2007-09-10 11:09:35

Add me to the list of people who ache for you and your family. What can we say except that we care and will remember you in our prayers. My heart stopped three times when I experienced my incident and my wife is still traumatized by this event so I can imagine how difficult it is for you.

You are correct, a pacemaker without a defibrillator can't restart a heart. I have a defibrillator and it has fired twice following exercise. I thought it would be a traumatic thing to tell my wife about it but both of us felt blessed that the thing works! It wasn't pleasant but it did its job.

I hope that you can find peace and be able to maintain your family and give the children the best life possible under the circumstances. The children will remember you for the sacrifices it will take for you to raise them alone for however long that may be the case

I give you my encouragement and sympathy!
Mark Collier

to the whitman family

by jessie - 2007-09-10 11:09:56

i am so very sorry for your loss. i don't know what to say. it is so sad and perhaps he had somthing else wrong. did they do an autopsy. i hate that word but sometimes it is the only way they can find a reason for sudden death. it is very very unusual. he like me had a dual lead medtronic except he was very young. i hope you get some answers. please take care of yourself. please remain at this site for support. i hope you have family close to you emotionally and physically. you are in my prayers to-night maureen

Me again- can't sleep

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-11 01:09:39

Thank you for you prayers. I'm having a difficult time sleeping tonight. Yes he already had his autopsy, and they don't know what happened. I'm so scared for anyone with this pacemaker right now because I don't know if the problem is with the device. I've vented my frustrations on researching this as much as possible, because right now I'm waiting on the testing from Medtronic. I've been told that it will take several months. I googled "medtronic recall" and found a massive recall in 2005 on Medtronic pacemakers which were defective. Their batteries depleted within days and in some cases hours after being installed, leaving the patient completely helpless to their medical problem. I also checked tachycardia (which happened right before he died, first instance he ever had in the 8 years he's had a pm.) I guess there are known cases where a pm battery is so low on power that is caused a ventric. fibulation which resulted in several tachy. episodes which can then cause the heart to stop. I fear this as a possibility.
My heart aches for my children because I know that they don't understand that he's not coming back. He would frequently be out of town throughout the year and they were used to this.
I myself am in a serious case of denial. I can't even cry anymore because I don't believe in my heart that this has happened. It just can't be real.
I am very fortunate because I have a tremendous support group. Family, friends and co-workers. I find myself constantly visiting them and calling them so I don't have time to think about it.
He was the most amazing husband, father and friend. I don't know how we'll go on without him. I'm a 30 year old widow and I don't know that I have the strength to get through this. I'm doing my best for our two children but, it's just not fair. I just don't know what to do anymore.
This is why I joined this group. I need to vent my emotions and hopefully hear other stories that will get me through this. I truely hope that this is not a defect with his pm, but I fear the worst and worry about others. The least I can do is use this terrible suituation to possible help others.

So sorry for your loss

by ela-girl - 2007-09-11 02:09:16

Dear Jane,

I know that words can be of little comfort during a time of great loss, especially when a death is so untimely. I wish that there was something I could say to help with your pain. Please know that I will hold you and your children up in prayer. I, too, am married and 30 (but without children) and cannot even begin to imagine your grief. Perhaps you can take comfort in knowing that you have found a great site full of great people who will support you in many different ways. You are such an inspiration--caring and worrying about others' health during your time of need. You must be an amazing and courageous woman.

Sleep with angels!
ela-girl

I sent you...

by queen_beez - 2007-09-11 02:09:48

a private message already. But I do want you to know that we will all be here for you day or night. I will give you my email queen_bies@yahoo.com and if you want to email or get my number and call day or night. I am here for you. Sometimes strangers are a lot of help as we try to be strong in front of our loved ones. There are no expectations of you here.I have a tear ,you have many. My heart aches, your heart breaks, I feel so sad, you ARE so sad. I just want you to know you are not alone. We can't fix this. Nothing can.But we can hold your hand, so to speak, until you get some strength to carry on. As you must for your children.God bless you and I too am angry. If there is something wrong woth the PM. Why did Medtronics take it. They may not be honest with you. Many companies have lied about things like this. I say you should ask for an indepent inquiry.from the hospital.It will keep you busy to look for answers and with that you will regain a small amount of strength.Thank you for sharing as you may be saving one of our lives.I go in on Wednesday anyway as I have an enlarged heart and fluid around it . I have a Dual Medtronics and I feel my heart beat fast alot.They keep telling me my PM is working fine. But with this episode I am gonig to push the issue. I go in for an echo and if you don't mind I am gonig to share your story and ask if I could be in that situation or at any risk like your husband.
Again I stress, we will be here.
Truly,
Your "strange" friend,
Susan

Me again, too

by auntiesamm - 2007-09-11 02:09:48

Hi Jane,

You are so heavy on my heart that I had to come back and re-read your posting and I found your new post. You speak highly of your husband - he was also your friend and an amazing father. Keep those memories close to your heart to help get you through this. No way can I imagine being a widow at 30 with 2 little ones. Your world has been completely devastated and it must seem as though you have no hope. I can't tell you how to have hope (my hope is in Jesus Christ), or how you should or shouldn't feel. I will say though that your memories are some of the most precious things you have right now, that and your children. Love them and hold them close. How in the world can you make them understand that daddy isn't coming back? How frightened they must be. Is it possible for you and the kids to get counseling? There are many wonderful organizations who do grief work with adults and children. Maybe this would help.

Again, Jane, I am so saddened by your circumstances and it seems so unfair. I wish I had something really wise to say but there just isn't anything at a time like this. Please take care of yourself so you can care for those babies your husband created with you out of your love for one another. That will never, ever die. God bless and keep you close to Him.

Sharon

Our hearts are with you at this sad time

by peter - 2007-09-11 03:09:22

Dear Jane, Im very sorry to hear about your sad loss. All I can say to help is that time is a great healer. It is our worst nightmare that something goes wrong either during or after a pacemaker replacement. Please keep us posted if you hear any further news as to the cause. You are welcome to my email address if you would like to contact me. bayhoecott@yahoo.co.uk

Hi

by Karen - 2007-09-11 03:09:47

I am sorry for your loss. Prayers for you're family sent. I don't if mine is similar or not. I have bradicardia and recieved a pacemaker at 39 al so thrid degree heart block. I had a problem with adjusting to it. I was at the drs. office and my heart speeded up. it sound like an engine. The heart dr. had to do a massage thing on my to slow my heart down. He called it tachy arythmic problem. I don't remember the exact term he used. He put me a beta blocker right away. It scared me and I think it took him by surprize too. Anyway praying for you and your kids. Karen

jane

by jessie - 2007-09-11 04:09:39

perhaps your family physician could prescribe a mild sl. pill for night when you are sleepless. you need your sleep and need to be strong for your children. ask he will probably prescribe for you under the circumstances. what a terrible shock. we are here for you and you need only ask for support.maureen

So Sorry

by Vicki - 2007-09-11 05:09:54

My heart goes out to you and your children. I cannot even imagine how you are feeling right now. Please know that I am saying a prayer for you and your family.

God Bless,
Vicki

Jane My heart goes out to you

by bini - 2007-09-11 08:09:32

Dear Jane,
I am so sorry for your loss! Just know that we all are praying for you and your family right now.
When my grandmother died when I was very young I remember feeling so confused as to why god would do this to me. Someone then told me a quote that I love " God needed an angel by his side so he choose your grandmother to stand by him and watch over everyone."
Maybe you can say this to your children about their dad.
I truly believe he is now an angel guiding them each day.
Please if you ever need to talk email me at christine@morphis.com

Your in my thoughts

by admin - 2007-09-11 08:09:47

Please accept my deepest sympathies.

Blake

Sorry for your loss

by Heather H - 2007-09-11 08:09:53

I will keep you and your children in my prayers..

Heather H

Sorry

by MSPACER - 2007-09-11 08:09:58

I'm very sorry to hear about your husband. Here is an interesting link about pacemaker malfunction.

http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic1704.htm

Also, there is something called pacemaker induced tachycardia. I believe this can occur if the pacemaker is not set correctly. I would get an attorney to try to obtain copies of the pacemaker interrogation. The pacemaker stores events and so it may be possible to have you own independent expert view the report. I would also not rule out some type of error made by the doctor implanting the device, or the settings that the pacemaker was set at. You should also seek the printout of the settings that the pacemaker was set at when the pacemaker was implanted. I'm sure there is a copy in the medical records.

So sorry Jane

by Rewiredaussiegirl - 2007-09-11 10:09:18

I am so very sorry to hear of your sad loss.Our thoughts and prayers go out to you
I know that everyone that reads your post will feel so sad for you and your family.
A lot of us including myself are getting closer to having our pacemakers replaced and I am sure we will all be asking a lot of questions!!When I got mine in april 04 my lung was punctured during the procedure.I had an painful night not knowing what was wrong and it wasnt discovered until the following morning. I was told was that this sometimes happened and no apology for all the pain and extra time in hospital!!
Please keep us all up to date with whatever comes up about your husbands death.I do hope you get some real answers.
Take care and we are all thinking of you and your children
Kay

My thoughts are with you...

by bambi - 2007-09-11 11:09:01

Dear Jane,
I am so at a loss as to what to say about this horrible shock! Except to say, like everyone else, I'm so very sorry! Can you hire a lawyer and get the device retained and sent to an outside manufacturer for testing? Of course you are in denial! Your husband was to have a very routine procedure done and he lost his life! I will be praying for you and your children. Jane, I lost my husband 13 years ago to leukemia. I was 38 at the time. My children were 8,11, &12. The awful thing about this was, that his Dr. at no time said he could possibly die. Quite the contrary, he would recover according to this Dr. So I was devastated when he died very suddenly after 9 months of treatments. This is a huge loss for you and the kids. Please private message me if you feel like venting or want to ask anything at all! God WILL bless you and keep His arms around you at this time! I know this to be true - even when you are angry with Him! Bless you and the children!
Bambi

husband died....continued....

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-11 11:09:24

Here's what I've done so far. I called the FDA yesterday and asked why there isn't a 3rd prty testing this device. She responded with an email saying she spoke with her supervisor and indeed it is a requirement to have the pm tested at a 3rd prty facility. (Imagine the shock when I heard this), so then I called Medtronic back and asked who they use as the third prty tester, and she responded with "There is no 3rd prty." (not a surprise). Well I called my husbands original cardiologist (his first 8 years, switched drs. 2 weeks before the surgury because my insurance changed and it was out of network) and explained about how Medtronic told me it would be several months before it would be tested and it didn't matter if I wanted them to test it sooner because only the phys. can request this and even at that it would still take several months. I told her I didn't care I wanted to know the current statis of the pm. She told me she'd call me back. Well the original cardiologist was very upset that they wouldn't make an exception since I don't get the Death Certificate until they finish their testing, he told me he'd get it straightened out.
Well he certainly did. He called me that evening and told me they would start the testing today and because there are several steps they do each day it would take about a week. I was so relieved to hear this.
Imagine my surprise when the Medtronic woman called me first thing this morning to tell me that the testing was complete and there were no problems with the pm!!!
What happened to it being several months??? So I asked her where they would send the pm to next. She said they keep it. I told they will not be keeping it, and they will sent it to me immediately. She said they don't do that, and I told her they'd better because I already talked to the FDA and it is required by law it be tested by a 3rd party, and I already know that they will not be handleing that so I am entitled to have it to complete the testing. Well she didn't like this but obviously didn't have a right to deny me because she then said. Well it's going to take several weeks because they have to engrave it to make sure it's never used again. I told her
go ahead and bump up the priority on it and get it to me immediately and mail it to my house. She said okay.
It just amazes me that the coroner said there is no 3rd party to send to, Medtronic said this and the whole time this is required by the FDA. I also found out that there was another pm impant that was done after my husbands by the same cartiologist. Guess what. He's been back to the Dr. 8 times because of severe complications and the Dr is calling him constantly.
To make this even more suspicious. The Dr. who preformed his surgury left the area and the office which he had worked in when he preformed my husbands surgury isn't possitive where he went or what he is doing right now. There are red flags poping up left and right and I will not rest until I make sure that noone else dies from this, even if it comes back to be natural causes (which I'm willing to except). I have a moral obligation to save others whatever the cause.
Thankyou to everyone for all of your support. You are an amazing group of people!
Take care

I to am so sorry

by randrews - 2007-09-11 11:09:33

I will pray for you and your children. Please use this site and the wonderful people here for help and company.
God bless you,
Rusty

Unbelievable!

by auntiesamm - 2007-09-12 01:09:48

Hi Jane,

Your story is just unbelievable! What do these people mean "they don't know about a 3rd party for testing". They have no business implanting cardiac devices if they don't know what the FDA regulations state! This goes from worse to horrendous, doesn't it? I am so glad you are determined to pursue this until you get the answers you deserve. Was the surgeon actually listed as an in-network physician on your insurance roster or was he just a member of a group on the roster? This entire thing is so full of holes it is reprehensible! There are so many red flags as you say that this so-called doctor needs to be found and questioned and all the medical records obtained. Have you been in contact with the other patient's family? Have you asked the hospital for this "doctor's" credentials and verification of status to practice? They are just as liable if they have allowed him to operate in their hospital if he is not properly credentialed. Just remember any time you get discouraged with any of this, all of us on this forum are behind you. If I can help in any way please, please ask! My prayers are lifted up for you and your children. You are an incredible young woman to stand strong on behalf of your husband. Keep the faith and God bless you.
Sharon

Answer to Dominique

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-12 01:09:49

Under my insurance, pm surgury is concidered an outpatient procedure. However if his surgen would have put forth any effort he would have seen that during my husbands first pm procedure, he spent 4 days in the hospital because of complications, and just the meer fact that he only needed this pm during his sleep, they would've seen that he needed to be evaluated overnight. I personally helped remove the heart monitor from my husbands chest when they pushed us out of the hospital 2 hours after his surgury.

Prayers

by bini - 2007-09-12 11:09:15

Dear Jane,
Again I am praying for you and your family. I can't imagine what you all are going through.
I would really study the surgeons history and get more answers about him. Don't give up on this...sooner or later you are bound to get the proper answer.
You are in my thoughts and prayers!!!!

Christine

I have questions.

by Stepford_Wife - 2007-09-12 12:09:49

Dear Jane.

I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go to you and your young children.
With deepest sympathies,

~ Dominique ~

I was wondering why your husband was sent home the evening of the pacemaker replacement surgery?
Isn't it protocol to keep the patient overnight, so the pacemaker can be properly programmed the following day, by a technician?
Or, since you had switched insurance, was it in the new policy that an overnight stay wasn't covered for this type of procedure?
Were you given any reason by the doctor or hospital staff as to why they were releasing him so soon?
There is so much to your story that raises all sorts of questions.
You are right to question the strange answers you are receiving. Continue your investigation, something just doesn't add up.
Best of luck, keep us informed, we are all here for you, to help in any way we can.
Take care,

~ Dominique ~

surprise surprise

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-13 02:09:38

The FDA is now backing out of what they informed me through email. They're now saying that it is not required to be tested by a third party. I'm ready to give up!

Please don't give up

by bini - 2007-09-13 08:09:50

I am so sorry to here about the fda email, however I think you should keep doing research yourself. I would investigate the surgeon that preformed this procedure.
My heart goes out to you and your children, I wish I could give you hugs!
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you!

Christine

Don't Give Up!

by auntiesamm - 2007-09-14 01:09:58

Hello Jane,

Whatever you do, don't give up on pursuing your husband's cause of death and the investigation of the pacemaker. I know it is very stressful and would be so easy to back off, but that is what those involved would like you to do.

Is there anything we in the PM Club can do to help you with your research, contacting anyone, etc.. There are so many of us who have time and patience to do so if you need help. This truly is little David against the great big Giant Goliath; in this case Goliath is Medtronic and the FDA.

Please think it through very carefully before you make a final decision to not pursue this any further. If you do decide not to continue we will all understand. Please keep us in the loop so we can continue to support you and your family through this wonderful website. God bless and keep you and your children.

Sharon

PS: In the 16 months I have been in this forum, your posting generated more responses than anything else I have seen. It is incredible how many people posted messages for you and your family. You really struck a nerve in all of us!

Lots of smoke and mirrors!!

by cryssg_2000 - 2007-09-16 11:09:58

{{{{{{{{{{{BIG,BIG HUGE HUGS JANE & FAMILY}}}}}}}}}}

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you find closure on your husbands' death.

This Dr. sounds a lot like the one that botched up my daugthers pm surgery and another little boy's pm surgery a few years ago (who knows how many others?). Our daughter has had on going problems causing continued heart troubles that never existed before this cardiac surgeon got his hands on her. Anything that could have gone wrong has, and then some. I've been thinking about contacting a lawyer for the future because I believe we've past the statute of limitations. I've also been concerned that the pm itself is part of the problem as well (it's Medtronics). It's pretty nerve wrecking to have the company representative pacing more nervously than usual outside your child's cardiology appointment door. I pray this isn't the same Dr. who just recently returned to the same hospital.

Please stay in touch Jane! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being so brave to share your tragedy, this is in my opinion the right audience to hear your story. Don't be afraid to call the Ombudsman, a lawyer and perhaps some media to help you in your search for the truth.

Cryss

My heart goes out to you!

by cottontop - 2007-09-17 07:09:12

Jane, I know nothing I can say can ease the pain you and your family must be feeling. You are a strong women for following up about the PM. You said that you felt the need to let others know. I thank God for that as I have a Medtronic Adapta DR also. Anything I can do to help with getting some answers about the pacemaker please let me know. God bless you for thinking of others at this very difficult time. You and your family will be in my prayers.

cottontop(Amy)

update

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-17 11:09:10

The progress is going slowly, but I'm not giving up. Please keep checking and I'll update you as things change. Right now I'm waiting on all of the medical records. I've found an important piece to the puzzle, I'll inform you later.
Jane

Whitman.family

by cottontop - 2007-09-18 01:09:17

Jane, check you private message box.
cottontop

My husband

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-18 12:09:07

Please visit the page I started of my husband.
www.geocities.com/whitman-family@sbcglobal.net

new news

by Whitman.family - 2007-09-26 05:09:48

The doctors are now admitting that Brian had 35 episodes of PMT in their care. What does this mean? Should they have tested him for tachycardia? Should they have put a difibulator in him while replacing the pacemaker having known this? Please help!!

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