Medical Condition: Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Medical Therapy: Pacemaker*
Charity: Global Strategies
Just days after surviving sudden cardiac arrest and receiving his first pacemaker, Arthur reflected on his life and career and decided he would use his "extra time" to help improve health conditions in impoverished regions. He founded Global Strategies to meet prevention and care needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Liberia.
"In 1993, I had an emergency hospitalization for severe abdominal pain. It resulted in gall bladder surgery for stones. During that time, a cardiac arrest and complete heart block occurred. A pacemaker was installed to 'keep me going.' While I was at home recovering from surgery, and during 10 days in the intensive care unit, I had time to reflect on my career and life.
"I had helped create a vaccine that prevents pneumococcal infection and has saved the lives of millions of children and elderly. I had also identified the first child with AIDS and the first patient with blood transfusion AIDS. My career had included hundreds of publications and many awards, tenure as a full professor at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and a successful second career at a leading biotechnology company. I was financially secure. Perhaps, I thought, it was time to retire.
"During one of those reflective mornings, I was reading the Imitation of Christ written in the 14th century by Thomas a Kempis. 'God says to us, his children, it is necessary for you to learn many more things, which you have not yet learned well.'
"I remember groaning out loud. 'Hadn't I learned enough? Hadn't I done enough?' And then it became clear. I now know why I survived a cardiac arrest. It slowed me down just long enough to acknowledge the issue of justice for those with desperate health needs in faraway places. I'd been given the gift of additional time with a pacemaker to help those in the some of the poorest and neediest regions of the world. But to take on the challenge of traveling to remote regions of the world where advanced health care was unavailable.
"As a result of my experience, in 1998, I founded Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, to meet the HIV prevention and care needs in some of the poorest and neglected regions of Africa – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Liberia.The results over the past 15 years have been measurable providing HIV prevention and care and reducing maternal and infant mortality for tens of thousands of women and children."
"Let us always ask the question – for whom was I given additional years of life? For myself? Or so that I might help others live longer and fuller lives?
"We only understand the true miracle of medical technology when we personally experience its incredible benefits. Take time to reflect on what your journey through life should now be and what the personal benefit of advanced medical technology can bring to you, and to the health of others."
"Global Strategies empowers communities in the most neglected areas of the world to improve the lives of women and children through healthcare. Having observed that the HIV epidemic shifted from a majority of men to women and children, I formed Global Strategies with a mission to save the lives of the most vulnerable, and alleviate the suffering of women and children through HIV prevention, treatment and care."
*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you.