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Tim Cook offers teen who said Apple Watch saved his life an internship & new iPhone

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One of Apple’s biggest focuses recently has been the health capabilities of its devices specifically Apple Watch. From the start, Apple has highlighted the device’s health features and it reinforced that message at its “Hey Siri” event earlier this month. Now, a Cape Cod, Massachusetts teen says his Apple Watch saved his life. The teen’s story even prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to call him.

17-year-old high school football player Paul Houle Jr. told WCBV that following a football practice, he started experiencing strong pains in his chest when breathing, as well as a very fast heart rate. The Apple Watch, of course, can measure heart rate and that’s exactly how Houle figured out something was wrong. “After practice I went and took a nap, my heart rate was still at 145,” Houle told the local news station. “If my Apple Watch hadn’t shown me it was 145, I would have done nothing about it.”

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Once he realized that something was definitely not right, he went to the emergency room and discovered that he had heart, liver, and kidney failure. Had he not been wearing his Apple Watch, Houle likely would have thought nothing of the pain he was experiencing.

Houle’s story is so remarkable that Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the teen a call. Speaking to Houle, Cook offered him a new iPhone for free, as well as a summer internship at Apple’s headquarters next summer. “I got a phone call from a California number, and he said ‘hello, my name is Tim Cook, CEO of Apple,’” Houle said.

The teen’s father was skeptical of the Apple Watch at first, not wanting his son to waste money on one, but after the lifesaving experience it provided over the weekend, he went out and bought himself and his wife one.

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  1. applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

    I hope Tim didn’t give him a 16GB iPhone because that would be torture.

  2. I’m jealous.

  3. Maxim∑ (@MCaudebec) - 8 years ago

    So I now need massive organ failure or a dismantled clock in a brief case in order to get all these opportunities?

    • patthecarnut - 8 years ago

      Or drink LOTS of Redbull, especially before and after football practice.

    • RP - 8 years ago

      Yep that’s the meaning of this story. It’s a parable. I agree with the Red Bull suggestion. Drink a whole case if you have to.

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      Hahaha yeah that’s what I was thinking. I mean what did he study that Tim let him get this internship at Apple. I was thinking you needed a great and specific degree to work there… Maybe if tomorrow I say iPhone saved my life because when I fell asleep while the stove was on, the alarm I set on my iPhone woke me up allowing me to turn off the stove Tim will fire Federighi and hire me to replace him.

    • i think it’s enough if you sell a kidney

  4. RP - 8 years ago

    Wearables are definitely the future, and are going to be commonplace. But I am still waiting on the second gen. Pretty sure I won’t die until then.

    Thanks kid for beta testing it for me. Glad to see it’s working.

  5. I want to almost die !!!! :(

  6. A very nice gesture from Tim.

  7. rafterman11 - 8 years ago

    Free atuff from Apple.

    Um, yeah. . .Apple watch saved my life too. Yeah. . .that’s the ticket.

  8. charismatron - 8 years ago

    I’m a bit cynical about this. After the student Ahmed, the little guy that built the clock, was arrested and all that, Microsoft sent him a huge package of gear. It was both thoughtful encouragement and a savvy media play.Tim may–just maybe–playing a bit of catch up to Microsoft.

    Or, maybe tech companies just like giving stuff away.

  9. sulfen - 8 years ago

    I think that it’s kind of sad that people try to mark it as unfair just because it didn’t happen to them. Everyone should be happy that it didn’t happen to them because organ failure is one of the most painful things you could go through.

    I found out about my heart failure when I noticed 120-160 heart rates when I was resting and not running. But it was with the free heart rate app that I had installed on my iPhone 4s.

  10. Apple save my life when i jump from a failing helicopter and the propeler hit me but the macbook air take the hit… i want a iphone and a macbook pro..

  11. i feel sorry for that guy, if you need a #applewatch to tell you that therei s something clearly wrong with your body then, well .. i feel sorry for that poor boy.

    • Jassi Sikand - 8 years ago

      How does that logic work? As been explained many times, his diseases don’t produce many noticeable symptoms. You can’t generally tell that you have an elevated heart rate until something tells you. At least, that’s been my experience. My AW didn’t save my life but it certainly told me that I was less healthy than I thought I was.

    • sulfen - 8 years ago

      You can’t really feel the symptoms of organ failure because they blend so well with your life. Have you ever ran a couple of miles and felt really tired? Well, that could either be from the running or from the organ failure. Have you ever gained a couple of pounds in a span of a week? Well, that could be from the eating that you did or the organ failure. Have you ever felt like throwing up? Well, that could be from some bad food that you had or the organ failure.

      It really is that hard to tell, unfortunately.

  12. pmelerine - 8 years ago

    Thats very good marketing by mr. Cook. The story will go viral and he will be on networks interviwed. U cant pay for advertising like that. I owned a mac in 1980s so ive been an apple (not known under current name back then it was macintosh), girl for decades. Way back then the computers were so easy to use and grasp i taught my kids software in a few hours while ibms were so complex. I go back as far as dos disc start up alot no most of you dont even know what that is. But pc’s as you know them today were not easy to use until gates stole the mac interfacing and ideas from jobs while he was busy tripping on acid. Lol
    Id given the world to go intern there lucky kid better make best of it to hopefully stay on afterwards and if not talk about a boost on your resume omg.

  13. Atlas (@Metascover) - 8 years ago

    The AW is indeed a great tool and has still a lot of potential for health capabilities. But I wonder… did he really need his watch to see that his heart was racing?

    • sulfen - 8 years ago

      Yes, when you have organ failure it’s really hard to tell what your heart is doing. He didn’t need the watch, obviously any heart monitor would work, but it happened to be from Apple for him.

  14. PinkAppleEatr - 8 years ago

    Some of the commenters are quite disgusting! I totally get the awesomeness of getting an internship at Apple and a free iPhone, but in the grand scheme of his circumstances, that isn’t the lucky part. Lucky is the fact that he/his family could afford to purchase a smartwatch. Lucky is the fact that he happened to check his heart rate. Lucky is the fact that he knew 145bpm isn’t normal. Lucky is that fact that he made it to the hospital in time. Getting an internship and free iPhone is a “congratulations for using our technology to see you had something horribly wrong going on.” and a “thank you” for the free advertising.

    Oddly enough, I haven’t heard about Tim Cook calling the older gentleman that discovered he has Sick Sinus Syndrome and had to get a pacemaker thanks to the heart rate feature on his Watch.

  15. Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

    Basically he saw his heart rate and panicked and went to the hospital… to a normal person this could have been due to drugs, alcohol, lack of exercise, or even steroid abuse…

    I’m sure that if this kid had heart, liver, and kidney failure that it was not the watch that saved his life — there would have been many other signs…

    It would be like saying “my watch saved my life because it reminded me of a very important meeting…had i have missed this meeting i would have been fired”

    Or saying “using apple watch saved my life as it carefully navigated me around the city…without it i would have gotten lost and possible died”

    I’m disputing that this kid was seriously ill (whatever the cause may be)…but as much as i love apple, you dont need a watch to know that your heart rate is high – you can check your pulse, or even feel your heart pounding, and if it was still high after practice and after a nap he would also feel dizziness…

    Apple is shamefully jumping in for some ‘free’ publicity…meanwhile google are thinking “darn, why didnt we think of that” — after all, things like google glass could have saved many peoples lives by recording real events that the police could use as evidence – they could easily call someone for help without trying to find their phone etc…

    still…either this kid was very stupid and ignored many signs, or he was doing some substance abuse – regardless, the watch didnt save his life

  16. My MacBook Pro saved my life… Can I get a Space Gray iPhone 6S 128 gb now :D

  17. tush4r - 8 years ago

    Where are the marketing guys from Apple, Siri just warned me that I will be dead in almost 50 years or less. Siri you are a life saver.


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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