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Patients pay back Biotronik with love


Patient Day offers testimonies of lives saved

by: JOSH KULLA - Patient Day attracted a panel of speakers whose lives have been saved by devices made by Biotronik, including West Linn's Floetta Ide.As Biotronik celebrates its 50th anniversary, the company wanted to see the results its products had achieved.

At Patient Day, on its campus in Lake Oswego, it found out. All of the laughter and tears at the event gave testimony to the lives that had been saved by the innovative pacemakers and defibrillators made by Biotronik. Although the occasion was called Patient Day, it was actually for everyone who had played a part in making saving lives possible.

“On our side we believe our purpose is to save lives, but we never get to see the results,” said Rex Richmond, vice president for marketing and communications for Biotronik. “This event closes the loop. Of the events that Biotronik is having this year, this is the most important one.”

You could tell it was a gala occasion because Biotronik’s president, Jake Langer, served as emcee, and he proved to be quite funny. But the centerpiece of the day was the speakers who told about how their lives had been saved and changed, and two of them were local folks: Ron Blash of Lake Oswego and Floetta Ide of West Linn. Their stories were moving, funny and they caused a ripple of gratitude that flowed to the hundreds of Biotronik employees in attendance.

It would be hard to top Blash’s story for drama.

“I’m emotional,” he admitted, after he choked up several times in his talk. Blash has a lot to be grateful for.

His story began with a trip with a friend to purchase a lottery ticket, because the jackpot was up to $280 million, and was just returning home.

“I said goodnight to Bruce and took one step,” Blash said. “That was the last memory I had for eight days.”

Blash woke up in a hospital, having suffered a severe heart attack.

“I was dead for 11 minutes,” said Blash, a former airline pilot. A Biotronik defibrilator installed in March 2011 assures Blash of continuing to enjoy his life.

“You never think something like this can happen to you,” Blash said. “You cannot control this issue. I would like to thank everyone in this room who has touched my heart.”

Panel moderator Dr. Heidi Sernoff noted, “You didn’t win the lottery, but you did luck out.”

Ide was described as “eternally young at heart,” but she just seems downright young. Her vivacity, charm and sense of humor at the age of 91 has to be seen to be believed. Thanks to Biotronik, Ide is continuing to live her wonderful life. She had been a dynamo in her fundraising for hospitals. She was lead benefactor on building the healing garden at Legacy Emmanuel Health Center (where her late husband, Lewis, worked for 40 years) and later the huge, beautiful garden at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.

However, her life was nearly interrupted by her need for quadruple bypass surgery.

“I couldn’t stop because I could see how much it meant to the patients,” Ide said. “I was so pleased to be able to help people.”

When her pulse dropped below 30 there was no question that Ide needed a pacemaker (“I call it my racemaker”), which she received from Biotronik in June of 2011. It was a great success, but Ide experienced a harrowing moment when she had to pull the plug on the cardiac messenger device located next to her bed. She woke up in the middle of the night to discover that the light on the cardiac messenger had turned from green to yellow. The next color would be red, which meant real trouble.

Not only was her bed very close to the floor, but underneath it was covered by Christmas presents. Ide’s telling turned the tale into a hilarious adventure, and the good news was that she was able to crawl under the bed and pull and re-install the plug in time to avoid the red light.

After the laughter subsided, Ide told the audience, “I have such feeling for all of you here. I want you to know I am here for all of you.”

Such stories with happy endings were just what the Biotronik employees wanted to hear.

“What better event could we have for our 50th year?” Richmond said.

Biotronik’s Lake Oswego campus is located at 6024 Jean Road, suite B4. For more information, visit biotronik.com.

by: SUBMITTED - Patients on Patient Day put on safety apparel to tour the manufacturing plant in Lake Oswego.