Discover Magazine has an amazing story about how a woman needed to be carried upside down in order to stay alive. It sounds crazy, but it's real. The reason she had to be held upside down was because her pacemaker had disconnected from her heart.
Louis F. Janeira, a cardiac electrophysiologist, explains that Mary had a complete heart block that slowed the heart rate dramatically (her heart was beating at 40 beats per minute instead of 60-80 beats per minutes). This caused her to faint and have seizures, so the hospital implanted a pacemaker to boost her heartbeat. It worked for a little bit — until she collapsed.
Mary's husband noticed that she regained consciousness as he picked her up, but when he sat her upright, she would collapse again. Every time he let her sit upright, she would collapse. He deduced that she could only be conscious when she was upside down, so that's how he carried her. Janeira, after questioning their sanity, realised it was because of the pacemaker:
"The pacemaker lead, the wire going from the pacemaker generator to your right ventricle, must have disconnected. Your coughing spell could have done it. Somehow, the lead reconnects when you are upside down and continues to stimulate the heart."
Pacemakers are made of a generator and a lead that send electrical impulses to the heart. The lead tip is screwed directly into the heart muscle, but could dislodge in extremely rare cases. Mary's lead tip was dislodged and could only be reconnected while she was upside down. Janeira had Mary undergo surgery to reconnect the tip and get her back into a healthy, upright shape. Amazing. Read the whole story at Discover Magazine. [Discover Magazine via BoingBoing]