BANGKOK, Thailand -- An American "cardiac electrician" who helped Dick
Cheney survive for 10 years and also eliminated nearly all of
Thailand's spooky Sudden Death Syndrome which killed mostly sleeping
males -- inspiring many to wear women's clothes as disguises -- has
received a $100,000 Prince Mahidol Award.

Dr. Morton M. Mower and a colleague invented the award-winning device
based on the big, bulky, hand-held electric paddles which doctors
usually place on the chest of a heart attack victim to send a bolt of
electricity to revive a dying heart.

Co-inventor Mower's device is miniaturized and implanted in a person's chest.

Later, whenever it detects a heart attack, the device automatically
sends electricity to the organ to revive it, without any medical staff

His Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator is not a
pacemaker, which simply maintains a heart's beating pulse by
stimulating the heart muscle and regulating its contractions.

Mower's defibrillator acts only in a life-and-death emergency when a
heart is about to stop.

Today, more than two million people worldwide wear the implanted device.

"It's an implantable defibrillator," Mower said in an interview inside
Bangkok's Grand Palace hours before a royal banquet was held honoring
him and a British laureate, Sir Michael Marmot, who also won $100,000
for separate accomplishments in the field of public health.

One of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's daughters, Princess Maha Chakri
Sirindhorn, is president of The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, which
confers the two awards each year for medical-related services.

Princess Sirindhorn presented the awards to Mower and Marmot on Jan.
28 in the palace's Chakri Throne Hall.

She then hosted them in a black-tie banquet which fed about 200
people, including Thailand's coup leader Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha, the king's Privy Council members, ambassadors of America,
Britain and other nations, plus international medical officials and

"We had external defibrillators for a long time. They were large,
heavy [hand-held paddle] things, and the concept was to miniaturize it
to implantable size, give it a little intelligence, and be able to
reduce the energy by feeding the shock through a catheter into the
heart," Mower said.

In Cheney's case, the device was implanted as "a bridge to transplant,
to get him to the point where once a heart became available, it could
be implanted.

"He was a high risk patient for a long time, and this was designed to
make sure that he stayed alive long enough for a suitable heart to
become available," Mower said.

In 1978 Cheney was elected as a Republican party Congressman from
Wyoming, and suffered the first of several heart attacks.  In 1988 he
underwent heart surgery for a quadruple-bypass.

Cheney survived with Mower's device inside his body for 10 years,
starting in 2001 when he became vice president under President George
W. Bush, until 2011.  Cheney received a heart transplant in 2012.

Mower did not personally work on Cheney as a patient.

"It was the device" which helped keep Cheney alive.

Implanting it was easy, like a "piece of cake," Mower said.

Mower, 83, is now based in Colorado and has been to Thailand several
times, including when he brought his device here to treat the dreaded
Sudden Death Syndrome in 2002.

Many panic-stricken Thai males had been resorting to superstitions, in
vain attempts to protect themselves amid a wave of hysteria because
men were suddenly and inexplicably dying in their sleep.

Countless males dressed themselves in women's clothes as pajamas while
they slept, to fool what they believed was a hungry spirit murdering
sleeping men -- while sparing most females.

"It was a real public health problem," Mower said.

"We heard about it, and came over with the [miniature implantable]
defibrillators and did a study on the defibrillator versus standard
medical care in that syndrome.

"And it [the defibrillator] was so highly effective, it wiped out all
the mortality. Completely."

Mower and his team worked with Thai electrophysiologists in the
northern city of Chiang Mai.

They soon realized his device could save victims from what turned out
to be heart attacks.

"The patients that we used in the study were either patients who had
an episode and were resuscitated, or family members. And there are
tests that you can do to bring it out," which will indicate that a
person is in danger of a fatal heart attack.

"So those are the ones we randomized," in their study and treatment.

"Many of these can be predicted," he said.

Males in Southeast Asia and elsewhere still die from Sudden Death
Syndrome, even though they could be saved by having the defibrillator

"The problem is that the penetration rate into the marketplace is not
high," he said, describing problems in selling the device in places
where it is needed.

"The use of the defibrillator is only by about 10 percent of those
people who really could benefit. I think the stumbling block is many
doctors don't really know about it. I think that there is an expense
to it. But it ends up being less of an expense than treating it in
other ways."

Mower said his next invention will zap stem cells with electricity so
they divide faster and heal damaged humans.

"We started pacing cell cultures. And these are cells that are not
cardiac or nervous tissue cells.  Pacing [is] putting these tiny
electrical currents in the culture dishes, and exposing these cells to
these various wave forms.

"We can also direct stem cells to go to damaged areas, divide more
rapidly and differentiate rapidly and heal damaged areas. This is an
electrical control system that had never been realized before," he

Mower, a cardiologist, is also a professor of medicine at Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and a
professor of physiology and biophysics at Howard University College of
Medicine in Washington DC.

"I'm a cardiac electrician," Mower said, laughing.