DACULA, Ga. - According to the American Heart Association, more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital.

A Georgia man says he would have certainly been a statistic if it wasn't for a defibrillator you wear on your body.

David Opferman lives in Dacula. He's the first to admit exercise wasn't always a priority.

"I messed around and I played a little sports but I didn't do daily exercising," said David Opferman.

But it was a visit to his podiatrist last year that would set in motion a startling chain of events. The nurse simply asked him how he was feeling.

"I said, uh, I'm just not feeling myself today, a little weezy. She said you probably need to see your primary care physician. And I said if I'm not feeling better in couple days I will," said Opferman.

But for the nurse, a couple days was too long. She scheduled a doctor's visit immediately. While hooked up to an EKG machine, the doctor gave him some surprising news.

"She says you're having a heart attack," said Opferman

So after having an unexpected heart attack at his doctor's office, Opferman was sent home, but he wasn't sent home from the hospital with a just prescription for pills, he was given a prescription for a vest. And only three days later it would prove to be a lifesaver.

The vest is the first defibrillator you can wear. Worn against the skin, it has sensors and gel-packs that disperse gel through the electrodes once it detects the wearer is going into sudden cardiac arrest. That's exactly what happened to Opferman just days after his heart attack.

"I was just sitting on the couch watching TV. Susan was making breakfast and my mom was there with me and I felt light-headed," said Opferman.

The voice from the vest was loud. "She's very loud, very audible and we just kind of did what she said," said Opferman's wife Susan.

"He's there just kind of unconscious and out the back and in the front those are the gel-packs. It expelled the gel. And then it gave him a shock. And then after the shock he was fine," said Susan Opferman.

The Opfermans still keep the pictures of the gel dispensed by the vest - the vest they say saved his life.

A defibrillator was eventually implanted in David's body. He now takes care of himself but both say none of it would be possible without the vest.

"It is incredible piece of mind to know that there's a device out there that you have on your body 24/7 to make sure it's there when you need it," said David Opferman.

"There is absolutely no doubt that David is here because of this life vest. Plain and simple," said his wife Susan.

The Opfermans say they wanted people to be aware of the life-saving device.

 
 
 
 
Pius Aghadiuno
By Pius Aghadiuno 02/23/2011 20:39:00