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N4T Investigators: Young father needs surgery for failing pacemaker battery

TUCSON – For people dealing with heart problems, medical science offers lifesaving technology, but one young Tucson father is learning that technology can sometimes be unpredictable.

“I didn’t know there was a problem until they called me the day after Easter. Monday, I got a phone call stating that they need to replace it within 27 days,” heart patient, Christopher Young told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Young is just 25-years old, and he suffers from a congenital heart problem.

He has been living with a pacemaker and internal cardiac defibrillator – or I.C.D. – implanted inside his body since he was 19.

Now, his doctor says the device needs to be replaced because the battery is not lasting as long as expected. Instead of ten or 12 years, it is lasting closer to six years.

“Surgery is a lot different for me now than before. When I went through surgery when I was younger, I didn’t have a daughter. But, now that I do have a daughter, it’s a lot scarier for me,” Young said.

Young tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, he has been going through a lot – including trips to the hospital, since learning he needs to undergo surgery within just a couple of weeks.

“I have severe PTSD due to it. Anxiety of actually having the defibrillator itself inside of me is huge,” Young told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators contacted the company that makes young’s ICD, Boston Scientific.

In an email, they told us there are no recalls or product advisories for Young’s device, and patient safety is their highest priority. They added that a number of their devices include self-diagnostics to monitor functionality.

“Having close monitoring of the device with remote monitoring is incredibly helpful, and should give them peace of mind,” said Doctor Peter Ott, Associate Professor at the U of A College of Medicine.

Dr. Ott tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, for heart patients, technology is getting smaller and more advanced, but in isolated cases, unexpected things can and do happen.

“Both pacemakers and defibrillators are incredibly reliable. Nonetheless, throughout the years all the different vendors have had issues with a batch of batteries that do not hold up to specifications. They deplete sooner than expected,” Dr. Ott said.

Young tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, he is also scared because of an incident last September, when the device shocked his heart multiple times over a short period of time.

“It starts off like a boom, and then just gets higher and higher and higher to the point where I’m on the floor, crying out for help. I just didn’t know what was going on at the time. It just kept hitting me and hitting me and hitting me,” Young told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

In the end, Young tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, with his surgery just a few short days away, he is worried about his future.

“It’s just been hard for me to sleep. It’s been hard for me to, you know, deal with the stress as of now, just to have to go through that surgery so soon.” Young said.

Young has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of his medical expenses.

If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to investigate, email us at, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham

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