He dedicated his career to making medical technology that can help save patients’ lives. He just never anticipated being one of these patients
Ken Denison has dedicated his career to making medical imaging equipment that can help save patients’ lives. But when he joined GE Healthcare 20 years ago to create CT scanners and other healthcare solutions in Waukesha, Wisconsin, he had no idea that the very technology his colleagues and he help to bring to market for patients would one day save his own life.
In January 2017, Denison suffered an ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) – more commonly known as a heart attack. He had no warning signs. No family history of heart disease. But his experience working in the healthcare industry warned him that something wasn’t right. “I’ll remember that day for as long as I live,” Denison said. “With no family history and excellent health, I couldn’t believe I was having a heart attack, but I knew I needed medical attention. I went down one flight of stairs, came back up and my mind told me you’re going down.” Denison called 911. Within minutes, the EMTs, reached him at his home where he was alone.
On the way to the ambulance, the EMTs asked him where he wanted to go. He didn’t hesitate to say the Aurora Medical Center in Summit, WI, where he knew the technology his colleagues created was used. From the moment he called 911 to the time his procedure was complete was 57 minutes – a record for both the local Town of Delafield fire department and the medical center, and critical for heart attack patients when every second matters. “Aurora St. Luke’s Cardiac Center is one of the best in the country, and I knew my interventionalist would be part of that team,” Denison said. “The quality of care from every medical professional on my team was incredible. They treated me with compassion and kindness and I knew I was getting the best possible attention.”
Denison’s interventional cardiologist at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, Dr. Krishna Kumar, used a GE Healthcare Innova IGS 530 to perform a minimally invasive procedure that would spare Denison from the trauma of open heart surgery and leave him with a small incision and a functioning heart. Aided by live x-ray images, Dr. Kumar guided a catheter through the blood vessels to the site of the blockage and placed a small tube-like structure called a stent to reopen the vessel and restore blood flow to the heart. Denison was home within two days of his emergency procedure.
“This was a life-changing experience for me,” Denison said. “All the healthcare equipment I encountered was engineered and manufactured by my colleagues – from the cath lab to the monitoring devices in the ICU and step-down room, to the Vivid ultrasound used to assess my cardiac function post-procedure.” He went through Aurora’s cardiac rehabilitation program and was told his heart is back to normal during his follow-up appointment a few months after his heart attack. “I am proud of the products GE Healthcare makes and am living proof of what great minds, innovation and collaboration can influence and enable our customers to do.”
Watch as Denison talks more about his experience.