Big Island Mayor Harry Kim underwent the installation of a heart defibrillator this morning at Hilo Medical Center.
The 78-year-old Kim has suffered six heart attacks, the two most recent occurring earlier this year, on April 26 and June 16.
“After he had the last two heart attacks, it was recommended by his physicians that he do this,” said Managing Director Wil Okabe, who is acting mayor in Kim’s absence. “It’s an outpatient procedure. Two doctors are coming in from Honolulu.”
Kim’s office described the procedure as a “precautionary measure.”
Kim was back to work within five days of his sixth heart attack, which his office described as “mild,” and returned to the helm within four days after his fifth heart attack.
Asked how long the mayor is expected to be away from work, Okabe said, “He’s Harry Kim, man,” then added, “Knowing Harry, he’ll be back at work soon. We appreciate everybody’s good wishes and support.”
Between Kim’s fifth and sixth heart attacks, the mayor was diagnosed with walking pneumonia in early May. The day before his sixth heart attack, he was diagnosed with a relapse of the pneumonia at the hospital but was released later that day with orders to rest.
According to the National Institute of Health website, defibrillators “can prevent sudden death among people who have a high risk of a life-threatening arrhythmia.”
Okabe said since suffering his last heart attack, Kim has “been great.”
“He’s been upbeat. You know, the last time he went into the hospital, they corrected some things, and I think he’s been more energetic. He’s been coming to work, but he’s been getting a lot of rest,” Okabe said.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.