Deanna Recktenwald, an 18-year old from Florida, was sitting in church in April when her Apple Watch started beeping. Her heart rate was unusually high; after reading the alarming data recorded by the watch, Deanna was rushed to the emergency room for a visit that may have saved her life.
“The watch kept saying that Deanna’s heart rate would go up to 140, then dip back down to 60, then go up to 140 again,” Tom Recktenwald, Deanna’s father, told CBS News. “Then it spiked to 190 and the watch vibrated on her arm, alerting her to seek medical attention.”
Deanna has always been an athlete; she played volleyball, was on the cheerleading team, and regularly practiced gymnastics. A high resting heart rate was unexpected for someone so active.
“The only symptom that I had was that I was out of breath from walking and standing and sitting,” Deanna told ABC News, “so it kind of didn’t make much sense.”
Concerned, Deanna’s mother, Stacey Recktenwald, who is a registered nurse, double-checked her daughter’s pulse. The watch’s reading was “spot on.”
The family rushed Deanna to the emergency room, where they discovered Deanna suffered from kidney failure.
“Her kidneys were only working at about 20 percent,” Tom told CBS News, “and we had no idea that they were failing.”
After further testing, it was determined that Deanna suffered from a genetic condition called Alport syndrome. Though Deanna does not need immediate surgery, doctors suspect she will need a kidney transplant within five years due to permanent kidney damage. Her family members are currently being tested to determine if anyone is a match.
Had the watch not alerted them to her symptoms, the family says the condition may have gone undiscovered.
“I’m so thankful she had that watch on,” her father says. “She’s going off to college in August, and the last thing I would want her to do is go off to college not knowing she had this underlying condition.”
The Recktenwalds wrote a letter thanking Apple for the watch and crediting them with saving Deanna’s life.
“I am forever grateful to Apple for developing such an amazing lifesaving product,” Stacey Recktenwald said in the letter according to ABC News. “If it wasn’t for her Apple watch alarming her about her HR we wouldn’t have discovered her kidney issue. I honestly feel that your Apple Watch has saved my daughter’s life.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple responded to the letter personally. He sent an email reply to the Recktenwald family and sent out a tweet expressing his awe of Deanna’s story.
“Stories like Deanna’s inspire us to dream bigger and push harder every day,” he says.
Apple isn’t the only powerful entity this family credits with their good fortune.
“It was a tool that saved her life, but we’re a very Christian-based family,” says Tom. “So we know that God had a hand in this too.”
The Apple Watch was recently attributed with saving New York resident William Monzidelis’ life as well. He was at work when the watch notified him to see a doctor immediately. Soon after, he began seizing and bleeding profusely due to an erupted ulcer that he had not been aware of. By the time his illness progressed to such an extreme, he was already on his way to the hospital, where he underwent successful surgery.
“It really was a magical device,” Monzidelis told NBC.
Apple Watch has integrated a number of other safety measures for medical emergencies. For instance, you can upload your medical records to have on hand to show doctors in a time of need. Additionally, the watch will connect with your phone to call 911 if you tell it. But even if you don’t have an Apple Watch, we bet you didn’t know your phone could track these interesting health stats.