“This new approach to delivering lifesaving ICD therapy in a full-featured device, but without the risks associated with leads inside the veins and heart, is very appealing,” said Dr. Scherschel. “I am pleased to participate in this clinical study and offer this innovative investigational technology to local patients.”

New job jitters are normal. But imagine starting a new job with a new pacemaker – the first in the United States and second worldwide to be implanted using investigational technology to treat dangerously fast heart rhythms.

That’s how Bobby Dokey started his role in disaster planning and emergency management at HSHS St. John’s Hospital on Monday. The week before, he was a patient at the Prairie Heart Institute at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield recovering from a surgery that implanted an Extravascular Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (EV ICD) to treat his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The elective procedure gives the 30 year old, whose father died of heart issues at age 42, peace of mind knowing he is protected against a heart condition originally diagnosed when he was 16.

“I knew my condition resulted in abnormally thick heart muscle, which makes it harder to pump blood. It was on my mind every day,” Dokey said. “I don’t feel as anxious knowing I now have something in place to protect me.”

The investigational EV ICD system from Medtronic is designed to deliver lifesaving defibrillation and pacing therapy from an implanted device via a thin wire (called a lead) placed outside the heart and veins. In traditional, transvenous implanted defibrillator systems, the lead is threaded through the veins and into the heart.

John Scherschel, MD, a Prairie cardiologist, implanted the device.

“This new approach to delivering lifesaving ICD therapy in a full-featured device, but without the risks associated with leads inside the veins and heart, is very appealing,” said Dr. Scherschel. “I am pleased to participate in this clinical study and offer this innovative investigational technology to local patients.”

ICDs have been saving lives for more than 30 years by delivering a lifesaving shock or painless pacing therapy to stop dangerously fast heart rhythms that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), an abrupt loss of heart function. Most SCA episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). SCA kills more than 350,000 people each year in the United States.

Dokey had been in discussions about treatment options with his Prairie providers for about six months before he became the first in the nation to receive the new device.

“I elected to wait for the new device being trialed. I knew it was better for my age and lifestyle. I like to hunt. I love sports and playing with my daughter,” Dokey said.

A week after his surgery, Dokey started a new job at HSHS St. John’s Hospital.

“The device worked for me three times during testing. I have no fear that it won’t do its job,” Dokey said.

Now Dokey can do his job, as well.

Prairie is currently seeking additional patients to participate in the study.