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Apple Watch saves life of Maine woman with heart tumor: 'It truly saved my life'

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David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A woman from Maine is now recovering from surgery to remove what would have been a deadly heart tumor, and she has Apple Watch to thank for her new lease on life.

Kim Durkee, 67, said that for three nights in a row back in May, her Apple Watch alerted her that she may be in atrial fibrillation, otherwise known as an abnormal heart arrythmia. At first, she dismissed the alerts and presumed that the watch may have been malfunctioning.

"The third night, the numbers went a little too high for comfort," Durkee said. "Then I said, 'You know what? Go to the emergency room. If they tell you it's nothing to worry about, then toss the watch."

Though she had no other symptoms, she visited local doctors in Maine, who confirmed that she was, indeed, in atrial fibrillation. And the cause of the A-fib nearly floored her: a myxoma, a rare tumor that forms in primitive connective tissue, usually in the heart. In Durkee's case, the myxoma had obstructed blood flow in her heart, causing the arrythmia. If gone undetected, it would've likely resulted in a stroke.

"[The doctors] said, 'Well, how did you know you had A-fib?' And I said, 'Because my watch told me,'" Durkee said.

Durkee then made arrangements to have surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital on June 27. During the five-hour open heart procedure, surgeons removed a tumor approximately four centimeters in size and growing quickly. The medicals teams told her that if it had grown much bigger, it would have "almost certainly" killed her.

After surgery, Durkee spent another 11 days at Massachusetts General, and she still has a long rehabilitation process ahead of her back home in northern Maine. But she isn't taking anything for granted anymore.

"I consider myself to be very lucky, to be here and talking to you," she said.

The Apple Watch that she once bought only to help her tell time and keep track of her exercise routine has now become a semi-permanent feature for her. WBZ-TV reports that she almost never removes it, even when she's at the doctor's office.

And many other lives may also be saved because of the technology in the Apple Watch. Durkee reported that she knows of many people who have since purchased an Apple Watch after hearing her story.

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