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Apple Watch alert leads doctors to life-saving discovery for Solon woman

"They both said the same thing, I probably would've had a massive stroke," Kim Durkee said.

SOLON, Maine — Modern technology can do some pretty amazing things, but what if something as simple as a smartwatch could actually save your life? One woman from Solon found that to be the case.

In late May, Kim Durkee said she woke up in the middle of the night to vibrations from her Apple Watch. But it wasn't a typical message notification, this was different. 

"The message basically said something to the effect of, 'You are in a resting state but we noticed AFib,'" Durkee said.

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular, rapid heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke or heart failure, among other heart complications. The message on the watch suggested Durkee go to an emergency room or contact her doctor. 

"At first, you know, I didn't feel anything, so I'm like that's a fluke thing. Then it did it two more times about an hour apart. I didn't think much of it because I don't have any illnesses so I didn't feel anything," Durkee said.

Durkee said the notification popped up four times the following night, and again the next night. So, she decided to go to the emergency room.

"When I walked in the doctor said, 'Oh, what brings you in here?' You know, because I looked pretty healthy like I do now. And I go, 'My watch told me I have AFib,'" Durkee said.

Durkee said after a number of tests, an echocardiogram led doctors to the discovery of a myxoma tumor in her heart. She said doctors told her it's rare, serious, and grows quickly. 

Within a month of that first ER visit, Durkee had open heart surgery to remove the tumor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Now, she is recovering at home, still wondering what if.

"I asked Dr. Osho in Boston who did the surgery and I also asked my doctor up here when I went for a check-up ... They both said the same thing, [that] I probably would've had a massive stroke, and they would've just said she died and they never would've known I had the myxoma," Durkee said. 

Durkee's family and friends have rallied together to take care of things around the house as she recovers. 

Durkee's brother, Dana Durkee, said the family was scared to death, but so thankful for the outcome, acknowledging how easy it is to brush off a seemingly insignificant sign of concern.

"She would do the same thing I would've done, she would've put it off just saying it's old age, it's this, it's that, and within three months they're saying something deadly was probably going to happen," Dana Durkee said.

"If your body talks to you or your watch talks to you, listen to it," Durkee said.

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