Heart device blew a fuse as father collapsed at home

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A FAMILY may never find out if a father’s life could have been saved by a heart device that blew a fuse.

Kristian Morriss had the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) installed after he was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition – dilated cardiomyopathy – in 2003.

The condition meant his left ventricle became stretched, and as a result the heart muscle became weak and unable to pump blood around the body properly.

The ICD would give Mr Morriss an electric shock when it detected his heart beating abnormally to restore its normal rhythm.

But on September 9 last year, the 35-year-old told his wife Angela that he had felt it shock him before passing out at their home in Saffron Way, Whiteley. She called 999 and began to give him CPR.

He was taken by ambulance to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth, but the father-of-one was declared dead at 10.45pm.

The ICD was sent back to manufacturers Boston Scientific for analysis and the data it recorded revealed a fuse blew after it gave a shock, at the time Mr Morriss collapsed.

But the lead that connected the ICD into his heart was not sent for testing.

Consultant cardiologist, professor John Morgan had overseen Mr Morriss’ case for several years. He said: ‘It’s possible that if that lead did work the shock may have worked as normal, but I can’t say that for definite.

‘The fact the fuse broke makes me think there was a problem with the lead.

‘That fuse blew and although the device produced the shock it was not into the heart.’

During an inquest in Portsmouth, it became clear that the lead had gone missing after Kristian’s death and as a result had never been tested to see if it was the source of the malfunction.

His widow and parents, who were at the inquest, asked if it could now be tested, but no-one present knew its location.

A post-mortem revealed that Mr Morriss died as the result of the rare condition, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.

Assistant deputy coroner Karen Harrold said: ‘It’s my understanding that even if the device had been working normally, it wouldn’t have necessarily saved him.’

And she told his family: ‘It’s particularly saddening that you have questions I can’t answer today.’

She recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.