“It was the best Valentine’s gift ever”; Couple reflects on gift that saved woman’s life

Couple reflects on gift that saved woman’s life

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(ABC 6 News) – While for many people, Valentine’s Day is certainly a day filled with love, for one local couple, it means much more than that.

It’s a day a woman’s life was saved, all thanks to a gift from her husband.

Kimberly McKenna’s heart beats for her family.

With eight children in total and four grandchildren, every moment in this Blooming Prairie woman’s life can seem a little crazy.

Even in those wonderful moments, however, that heart filled with love was not quite beating as it should be.

“It felt like my heart was flipping, like, literally just flipping in your chest you could feel it,” explained McKenna. “It would just leave you breathless and you’d have to sit down.”

For years, countless doctors told her that nothing was seriously wrong, after not finding any specific diagnosis in a test.

“I was told they’re not palpitations, they’re not dangerous, they’re not going to kill you. I was told you’re not going to die from them,” said McKenna.

That was in 2018.

For the next five years, McKenna continued living her life.

That is, until things got even worse.

“I knew something was wrong, I knew this was not just a palpitation,” said McKenna.

Her husband, Eric, has watched his wife struggle to perform simple tasks like brushing her teeth or going for a walk without leaving her breathless.

“A 50-year-old woman having heart problems, as abnormal as that is, it’s my wife, it’s the woman that I love.” said Eric McKenna. “I just wanted her to be okay.”

Last Valentine’s Day in 2023, a simple gift would change everything.

“It was time to upgrade her to an Apple Watch and, at the time, it wasn’t in my mind that this was going to medically solve anything aside from being a really cool gift,” said Eric.

McKenna’s Apple Watch has new technology that used an EKG to monitor her heart rhythm.

In those 30 seconds of the test, McKenna finally got the answer she had been seeking for years.

“It said ‘your heart is not beating productively, it needs to be put back as it’s not in a regular cardiac rhythm,” she explained.

With the data in hand, McKenna and her husband went back to the doctor again. This time, her pleas for a diagnosis were finally answered.

That August, Kimberly McKenna was having a procedure performed on her heart, even requiring it be shocked back into place on the table twice.

Those years left unanswered caused her heart serious damage, she says now, her heart was given a second life.

“It was the best Valentine’s Day gift ever,” McKenna said. “I’m just very thankful I have this Apple watch that was able to ultimately save my life and it has been life changing. It has because now I know that it’s not all just in my head.”

A Valentine’s Day that now meant even more than simply expressing affection for those you love.

“We’re here, we’re happy and we made it to another Valentine’s Day in good health,” said Eric McKenna. “It makes it all worth it.”

The biggest piece of advice McKenna has for others is to always be an advocate for yourself and your loved ones.

“If you feel in your gut that something’s not right, you need to push the fact,” said McKenna. “If you’re not getting the answers, find someone that’s willing to sit down and talk with you. Listen to your gut.”

While her heart still beats for those she loves, this time, Kimberly McKenna does not have to worry about it.