Story updated May 27, 2014, 1:02 p.m.

Local man, Vernon Byrd of Mebane, was saved by UNC cardiac physicians with the use of a new wearable defibrillator known as the LifeVest. This event is the first recorded instance in the history of UNC Hospitals in which the LifeVest has saved someone from imminent death.

The LifeVest is placed on the patient and will continuously monitor his or her heart. If the vest detects any irregularities in the patient’s heart rhythms, the defibrillator delivers a shock to revive the victim. UNC prescribes the LifeVest for various heart-related conditions that may place the patient in exceptional danger.

Dr. Roosevelt “Rosey” Gilliam, touting over 30 years of experience as an electrophysiologist, was the doctor who prescribed Byrd with the LifeVest after treating his heart failure. Only three days after Dr. Gilliam prescribed the vest, Byrd went into sudden cardiac arrest. While his wife dialed 911, the vest shocked him to restart his heart.

People need to know that implantable defibrillators are not the only option for patients suffering from a cardiac condition,” says the Communications Specialist at the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, Laura Melega. “If they are medically unable to undergo the implantation of a defibrillator, UNC physicians can make sure they are still being monitored with an external device. An external, wearable defibrillator can save lives.”