Earl Bakken Gives the Gift of Life to My Father, and So Many More
My father, Dr. John Duffy, a retired periodontist and my mentor, sent an email last week, asking me to extend a warm ‘thank you’ to my other mentor, Earl Bakken, founder of Medtronic, for inventing the pacemaker. With a New Year approaching, and my father facing his fourth routine Medtronic pacemaker replacement, he has been reflecting on his life and the extra time that Earl’s innovative medical device has given him since his first pacemaker was implanted more than 20 years ago.
During my father’s recent reflection, he said:
“I was thinking about this machine that beats every second to keep my heart contracting, and I started thinking about Earl and what he’s done for me personally. He didn’t just simply make a marvelous device from his electronic genius. He is literally saving my life every day. Without this life-saving innovation in my chest, the best I could do is 39 bpm, hardly enough to even walk. Please thank Earl for saving my life and allowing me to be with my wife and family for a few more years. What a gift he has given me, and how in the world would I ever thank him enough.”
This note of thanks from my father arrived in my inbox at the perfect time. I received it just a few days before Medtronic announced the 2015 Bakken Invitation honorees, who with the help of medical technology like the pacemaker, have overcome health challenges and are using their “extra life” to improve humanity and ease the suffering of others. This Live On Give On program, launched in 2013, reflects the wonderful human spirit of Earl and his dream of people selflessly giving back to the community with the additional time they gained because of a medical device or procedure.
There are 12 Bakken Invitation honorees this year representing 11 countries and inspiring change around the globe. Among them is a 37-year-old woman from the Czech Republic, who has been living with a pacemaker for the 26 years. It is amazing how she has pushed physical and political boundaries to help people in Darfur, South Sudan, Burundi, and East Timor. I look forward to meeting her and all the honorees in January and hearing their personal stories when we gather at Tutu’s House in Hawaii.
Thank you, Earl, for giving these inspirational individuals more time to do such good work and for also giving me and my father more time to spend together.