In November 1993, Willie was paralyzed after diving into the pool at his high school. Thanks to his quick thinking friends, he was airlifted to Johannesburg General Hospital in South Africa.
In July 1994, Willie was implanted with the Avery diaphragm pacemaker. Willie first heard of the pacer when his General Practitioner had told him and his family about it and contacted a Dr. Martin Bruwer in Pretoria, who had previously performed the surgical procedure.
Willie began pacing on his birthday. Willie said, “It was a very expensive and life-giving birthday present. It was a very emotional experience for everybody. The first 5 minutes it was switched on, was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I was completely exhausted and thought that I wouldn’t be able to be weaned from the ventilator.”
After a week, Willie became comfortable with the routine and even convinced his nurses to extend the prescribed schedule. Soon thereafter, Willie was completely weaned from the ventilator.
“Looking back on my life so far, it is very difficult not to experience some sense of spirituality. I wish I could describe myself as an awesome spiritual person, but I am only a person that does not deserve all the blessings, miracles and support from family, friends and strangers, that the Lord bestowed on me. As someone once said, ‘everything I have is only lend to me and everything I am is only through grace.’ Thank you for allowing me to share part of my story with you. All my best wishes for you and Avery.
The Avery Diaphragm Pacing System is an implanted phrenic nerve or diaphragm stimulator. It consists of surgically implanted electrodes and receivers with an external transmitter and antennas.
It can be implanted either cervically or thoracically using minimally-invasive techniques such as video-assisted (VATS) or thoracoscopic approaches.
The Avery Diaphragm Pacing System is the only diaphragm pacing system to have full premarket approval (PMA) from the US FDA and CE Marking privileges under the European Active Implantable Medical Device Directive for adult and pediatric use.
In addition, using small implanted radiofrequency receivers rather than electrode wires that pass directly through the skin may decrease a patient’s risk of infection and ongoing wound care management issues.
Avery has been commercially distributing diaphragm pacing systems since the early 1970’s. Since then, more than 2,000 patients have been implanted in over 40 countries establishing an unsurpassed record of safety and reliability. Due to their high reliability and cost effectiveness, the Avery pacers are reimbursed by Medicare and most private and government insurance around the world.