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5 Times an Apple Watch saved a life — and how it did it

Apple Watch Series 7
(Image credit: Stephen Warwick / iMore)

Since its first introduction to the masses, the Apple Watch has been seen by many as a wearable iPhone. After all, it helps you make calls, send messages, create reminders, play music, and a plethora of other functions that your iPhone does, all from your wrist. Of course, the Apple Watch also dabbled in fitness, allowing you to track workouts, keep an eye on your heart rate, and of course, count your steps. However, in recent years, Apple has been focusing more on letting the Apple Watch keep an eye on your health as well.

These days when you strap on your best Apple Watch (opens in new tab), you're treated to a whole host of health features that could literally save your life. Fall detection, irregular heart rhythm notifications, blood oxygen monitoring, and more.

You don't have to take my word for it; the life-saving capabilities are well documented. Here are five times the Apple Watch saved somebody's life and how it did it. 

1. Apple Watch saves life of 92-year-old Nebraska farmer

In June 2020, 92-year-old Jim Salsman went up on a ladder to shoo away some pigeons from a grain bin. According to him, the wind knocked the ladder over, and he went tumbling down over 20 feet to the ground. All alone, Jim attempted to use Siri to contact someone, but the Apple Watch already had it covered.

How did the Apple Watch save him?

As intended, Fall Detection on his Apple Watch was triggered when he tumbled to the ground. That sent out an emergency alert to the local volunteer fire department. Not only did it reach out to emergency services, but the responders were also able to find him due to the GPS location from his Apple Watch.

2. Apple Watch saves life of Georgia man with blood clots

(Image credit: iMore)

Keith Simpson bought an Apple Watch because he took up photography to get out and stay active. Then one day, he started to feel sick. He said his wife told him he looked flushed, so he checked his heart rate on his Apple Watch.

How did the Apple Watch save him?

His Apple Watch informed him that his heart rate had dropped to well below normal and encouraged him to seek medical attention. At the hospital, he found out that he had seven blood clots that they were able to treat. While the Apple Watch didn't call for emergency help right away in this instance, Simpson credits the Apple Watch for saving his life by encouraging him to get help. He even wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Cook responded back.

3. Apple Watch saves life of New Hampshire resident who fell through ice

William Rogers was skating at Salmon Falls River when he fell through a thin patch of ice. He attempted to pull himself up out of the water several times but the ice kept breaking underneath him.

How did the Apple Watch save him?

He didn't have a long time before hypothermia likely set in, so after taking a second to weigh his options, Rogers remembered that he had his Apple Watch on him. Thanks to the Apple Watch being water-resistant and able to be submerged, it still worked just fine, and he was able to call emergency services right from his wrist. 

4. Apple Watch helps woman in Maine find a heart tumor

(Image credit: luke.filipowicz@futurenet.com)

Kim Durkee had bought an Apple Watch in order to count her steps on her walks, but after two years of having it on her wrist, something odd happened. The Apple Watch notified her of an irregular heart rhythm that could be caused by atrial fibrillation.
 
How did the Apple Watch save her life?

The first time it happened, she thought it must have been a mistake, but the Apple Watch kept giving her warnings over the next couple of days. After some tests with medical staff, she was shocked to learn she had a non-cancerous heart tumor. She needed surgery to remove the tumor and now says that her Apple Watch is never coming off. 

5. UK man's Apple Watch spots A-Fib before doctors

Chris Mint was a healthy 30-year-old fitness enthusiast who had an Apple Watch to track his workouts. One day it started giving him notifications that he may potentially have atrial fibrillation: a condition that can be fatal if not treated and monitored properly.  

How did the Apple Watch save him?

When seeking medical attention, a doctor told him that his Apple Watch was likely mistaken, but they did a full check-up anyways. When Mint saw a specialist, they confirmed that he did indeed have two leaking heart valves. Doctors told him that without the message from the Apple Watch, it's possible the undiagnosed condition could have caused a heart attack or stroke. 

The Apple Watch advertises itself

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Stories like this recently convinced me to buy an Apple Watch for my mother (opens in new tab) for her 60th birthday this year. And this is just a small handful of stories out of dozens you could choose from that showcase the Apple Watch's ability to save lives.

Whether it's calling emergency services for you, notifying you of potentially serious heart conditions, or just being a device that can make calls when you otherwise wouldn't be able to in emergency situations, the Apple Watch is an incredible device. 

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.