Teen's Apple Watch Helps Save Her Life After Doctors Discover Hidden Disease


Sometimes, the advancements of technology can be frightening.

As voice assistants and biometric passwords become intertwined with technology, it has become increasingly difficult to know just how safe you are.

But other advancements, especially in the medical field, have opened up a world of life-saving possibilities.

Of course, when buying a gadget like an Apple Watch, most consumers aren’t purchasing it strictly (if at all) for its heart rate monitor feature.

Deanna Recktenwald certainly wasn’t using her Apple Watch just for the heart rate monitor. But when the teen and her family were sitting in church one day, the device began to send her alerts.

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“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,” her father Tom said.

At first, they weren’t sure the watch was accurate. But when her heart rate spiked to 190, the watch told her to seek medical attention.

“My wife is a registered nurse,” Tom explained, “so she decided to check Deanna’s pulse to see if all that was really happening. And when she did, the watch was spot on.”

Deanna’s mom quickly rushed her to urgent care, where they learned that her blood pressure was a startling 150/99. Doctors advised they go to the emergency room immediately, so they left for Tampa General Hospital for testing.

“They did all sorts of labs and an EKG, but what they ended up coming back with was more than just a heart problem. It was something underlying that we didn’t know,” Tom said. “She was in kidney failure. Her kidneys were only working at about 20 percent and we had no idea that they were failing.”

A biopsy revealed that Deanna had Alport syndrome, a genetic condition that leads to progressive loss of kidney function.

Thankfully, the teen’s Apple Watch alerted her to seek medical attention before things had the chance to get worse. But while it helped her avoid emergency surgery, she will still need a kidney transplant in about five years.

“I’m so thankful she had that watch on,” her dad said. “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.”

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Each of Deanna’s family members are getting tested to see if any of them are candidates for the transplant.

Following the incident, her mom Stacey reached out to Apple to thank them for what the watch was able to do for her family. Although she expected not to receive a response, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook personally responded via email the following day thanking them.

Cook also shared their story via Twitter, praising them for “inspiring us to dream bigger and push harder every day.”

And while the family is forever grateful to Apple and their device, they know that it was more than technology that saved their daughter’s life.

“It was a tool that saved her life, but we’re a very Christian-based family,” Tim explained. “So, we know that God had a hand in this too.”

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Languages Spoken
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Topics of Expertise
Health, Entertainment, Faith