New gadget gives new life: Video, photos

By Leigh Sharp

Russell Forbes Sharp is the first Australian patient to receive the latest, hi-tech pacemaker, a device about as big as a 50-cent piece and able to send text messages direct to the doctor.

Mr Sharp, 67, had the operation at Bendigo Health on Wednesday afternoon after a major heart attack just more than a week earlier. 

Bendigo Health cardiologist Voltaire Nadurata said the new pacemaker was not only about 20 per cent smaller than its predecessor but could also talk to him, if the defibrillator inside the pacemaker was activated. 

"The patient will have a monitor sitting at home attached to the telephone or to the cellular network. If something happens to him the defibrillator will talk to the monitor, the monitor will then send me a message and I will see exactly what happened to the fellow and then I go to the internet, log in, and see the whole picture," Dr Nadurata said. 

"It sends me a text message even if I'm on holiday, or if I'm away overseas - that's the downside to it. But the upside is that the patients feel a lot better that there's some back up, that they're connected to me 24/7."

Dr Nadurata said it would not be a problem if he were overseas because the hospital would also be notified and another doctor could stand in for him. 

He said the technology would especially benefit those living in remote areas because they wouldn't have to travel to major town centres to access their doctor. 

Mr Sharp, who lives on a 200-acre property near Heathcote, said it was reassuring to know he had easier access to his doctor.

"I feel terrific that now I've got a doctor that has got me on his monitor 24/7," Mr Sharp said. 

Mr Sharp was doing some light work on his property a few weeks ago when he experienced a major heart attack. 

"I was on my knees undoing a pipe and the next minute everything went white and I got very giddy and had palpitations and I was perspiring like you wouldn't believe," he said. 

He said he dragged himself five metres to his ute and called out to his little grandson who was playing on a trailer. 

"Noah, Noah, go and get Nanna," he said.

Noah ran to the back door and called out to his grandmother, "Poppy's had an accident". 

"It was Noah that saved me because if he wasn't there, I'd still be lying there."

"It was just lucky that this happened close to the house that the grandchildren were there and they got Margaret, because I'd be dead, I'd be dead now."

After treatment at a hospital in Ballarat, Mr Sharp was brought to Bendigo Health to have a pacemaker fitted in his chest. 

He was lucky to be there at the right time to be fitted with the brand new technology. 

Compared to the first range of defibrillators in the 1980s, which were about the size of a hip flask, technology has come a long way with the latest model now the size of a thick 50-cent piece. 

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