Young Daughter: 'Mommy's Dying'

As her 6-year-old daughter watched in horror, Bridget Robb screamed in pain.

"Am I dying?" Robb asked the 911 operator. "I'm young. I don't wanna die."

On Dec. 17, 2007, Robb's implanted defibrillator malfunctioned, shocking her heart a total of 31 times in the span of a few minutes.

During the seven-minute phone call, Robb was shocked 11 times.

The single mother from Gwynedd, Pa., pleaded with the operator to send help quickly.

"You don't understand how this hurts," Robb, 34, screamed with each shock. "God, please don't take me."


Robb recounted her terror before a Senate committee today, saying the electric jolts "felt as if a cannon was being repeatedly shot at my chest at close range."

"Mommy's dying," her daughter said as she hugged her cat, helplessly watching her mother writhe in agony.

A faulty wire caused the malfunction under her skin, which meant Robb felt like she was being repeatedly electrocuted.

Making matters worse, when she got to the hospital, Robb found out the defibrillator had been voluntarily recalled two months earlier.

"It was the worst day of my life," Robb told ABC News. "It was just horrific."

Though she survived the horror, she has had two surgeries to correct the problem and a blood transfusion, and she now suffers from severe anxiety. Robb said she had the device for two years because she has congestive heart failure.

But Robb can't take legal action against the maker of the faulty wire.

That is because the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that once the Food and Drug Administration approves a medical device, a consumer can't sue the manufacturer, even if they are injured by it.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chaired the Judiciary Committee hearing today where Robb retold her story in an effort to have the law changed.

"I think it was a good law that worked very, very well and suddenly the Supreme Court interprets it, I believe, the wrong way," Leahy said. "Either way, it's a duty now of the Congress to try to fix it."

The senator was clearly angered by Robb's physical and legal ordeal.

"Here's a woman who is basically being electrocuted by a device that had been recalled by a company that didn't even tell her," said Leahy.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., put the blame on the FDA which approved the faulty device.

"The FDA has become a joke," Specter said.

Medtronics, the company that makes the defibrillator used by Robb, issued its recall in 2007. But Robb told the committee, "Medtronics never notified me that my lead was recalled and I did not learn of the recall until after this 'life-saving' medical device seriously hurt me."

She told ABC News she found out about the recall in the hospital emergency room.

"I had no idea," Robb said. "I was shocked."

Medtronics told ABC News they sent certified letters to all the patients and their doctors.

Her agony does not entitle Robb to sue or recoup any compensation from Medtronics, experts told ABC News.

"She does not have a right, under the law, to sue because the company did not disobey the FDA," said attorney Robert Weiner.

"Consumers can't get any compensation for their injuries, even for their deaths, at the hands of fault or defective medical devices," said Brian Wolfman, director of Public Citizens Litigation Group.

The Senate committee also heard the harrowing story of Maureen Kurtek, who suffers from Lupus.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...