Sudden Cardiac Arrest

"I wanted to make my time count for something good."

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is helping Bruce continue his charitable work

A former New York Jets football player, Bruce Harper discovered he had cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, after his first sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). His heart stopped pumping normally, nearly costing him his life.

“They tell me that during my first SCA, I collapsed and was revived by a defibrillator,” Bruce says. “All I remember is waking up in the hospital the next day. I was then told that I had to have an ICD implanted in my chest. Over the years, and after my ICD saved me three more times, I personally realize the brevity of life.”

Bruce went on to found Heroes and Cool Kids, a mentoring program that matches retired athletes with high school leaders. It now serves about 20,000 students each year.

“I wanted to make whatever time I had remaining count for something good,” Bruce says, “so I gave my life over to giving. My near-death experiences have caused me to examine myself in search of real purpose in life.”


Medtronic co-founder Earl Bakken often asks patients, “What are you going to do with your extra life?” To answer that question, Medtronic Philanthropy supports the Bakken Invitation, a global call to all patients to make a positive difference in the world with their “extra years” of quality life. For his extraordinary efforts, Bruce was named a 2013 Medtronic Bakken Invitation honoree, earning a $20,000 grant for his Heroes and Cool Kids program.


The patient testimonial above relates to an account of an individual’s response to a given therapy /device. The account is genuine, typical and documented. The response other individuals have could be different. Implantable devices are not for everyone, and all devices described on this site carry risks. You should consult with your physician about any questions or concerns you may have related to your own health, about the risks and benefits associated with medical device therapy and if it might be the right option for you.  For more information, visit .