PORT ANGELES — Robin Tweter had complained mightily to her doctor about the defibrillator implanted into her chest after she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.
It was expensive, bothersome and she didn’t think she needed it.
On Feb. 15, it saved her life.
“I woke up in a pool of blood on a tile floor,” she told a crowd of 320 people at the Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s Red Set Go! Luncheon at the Vern Burton Community Center on Friday.
Her heart, already enlarged by a viral infection some 11 years ago, had gone into ventricular fibrillation.
“That’s sudden death,” Tweter said.
“The defibrillator read my heart, kicked in and in 44 seconds brought me back.”
Tweter had addressed a Red Set Go audience in 2008, the first year of the now-annual fundraising luncheons, as an example of a person who had survived a heart ailment.
“At the first survivor story, I didn’t feel like a survivor,” she said.
“Today I’m a survivor.”
Choking up, she added: “I’m grateful.”
Tweter spoke on behalf of all those who had provided survivor stories over the years, which included several in the audience: Vicki Quesnel (2008), Betty Wendel (2014), Lee Stanley (2015), Kim Wakefield (2016), Betsy Schulz (2017) and Ann Kennedy (2018).
The 12th annual Red, Set Go! luncheon — catered by chef Kathryn Kitt of Sweet Beginnings Cafe in Sequim — raised $72,000 for new diagnostic treadmills at the Olympic Medical Center Heart Center. One treadmill costs $50,000, said event chair Karen Rogers.
“Once again, we were able to raise money for something that will save lives,” Rogers said.
Money raised over the cost of a treadmill will go toward other items for the heart center, said Bruce Skinner, executive director of the OMC Foundation.
In 2008, the foundation launched a three-year campaign to raise awareness about the issue of heart health for women on the Olympic Peninsula. The campaign was so successful that the foundation decided to host an annual event.
It promotes the idea that the key to eradicating heart disease is education, while also raising funds for cardiac care.
“The purpose of our event is to inspire women to learn how to improve their heart health,” said area cardiologist Dr. Kara Urnes.
Urnes said that heart disease is the top killer of women.
One out of three women will die of heart disease or stoke, she told the crowd before introducing another speaker, Dr. Kira Long, a vascular surgeon from Swedish Medical Center in Seattle who also treats patients in Sequim.
Long presented symptoms and treatment options for peripheral vascular disease and provided such resources as Society for Vascular Surgery at https:// vascular.org/, American Venous Forum at www.veinforum.org/ and Swedish Medical Center at www.swedish.org/.
For more about OMC, see www.olympicmedical.org/
For more about the OMC Foundation, see www.omhf.org/.
The foundation continues to accept donations for the heart center and for other aspects of OMC, Skinner said.
“People interested in contributing can contact our office at 360-417-7144,” he said.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].