When high-school senior Paul Houle Jr. started preseason training for football this month, something unexpected happened.
Houle, who attends Tabor Academy in Massachusetts, noticed his heart rate had remained high at 145 beats per minute hours after football practice ended.
Houle was later found to have rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down and releases muscle fiber into the blood, which in turn can cause kidney damage, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
“At the hospital they told me that if I had gone to practice the next day, I would have lost all control of my muscles and there was a good chance I would have fallen down on the field and died right there,” Houle told OneCape Health News, which first reported the story Friday. “I’m very grateful for that heart-rate monitor.”
Houle’s high resting heart rate, which Houle noticed only because he was wearing his Apple Watch, prompted him to seek medical attention and receive a proper diagnosis.
He said he never expected the watch’s heart-rate monitor to be so useful to him.
“It was never a feature I thought was going to be a big deal for me,” he told Business Insider. “But just playing around with it I learned what my resting heart rate was, so when it was elevated later on I knew something was wrong.”
But what was perhaps just as unexpected was the phone call that followed Houle’s discovery. Apple CEO Tim Cook personally called Houle recently to see how he was feeling – and to offer him an internship at the company.
“[Cook] asked me about college, since I’m a senior, and what I plan on studying, which is electrical engineering,” Houle said. “He told me to stay in touch because Apple will always have a spot for me and offered me an internship with them.”
Houle said an Apple employee followed up with him immediately to discuss plans for the internship.
“She said you usually have to be a university student with all of these credentials,” Houle said. “But when the CEO offers you a job, you kind of get to skip all those.”
Cook also offered Houle a complimentary new iPhone 6S.
“He said, ‘OK, you’re going to be one of the first people in the world to have it – you’re getting it a day early,'” Houle said.
Houle was surprised to receive the call from Apple, and he was nervous to talk to Cook at first.
“To get a call from the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world, especially one that I’m such a big fan of, it was an unreal experience,” Houle said. “I was so nervous … I didn’t know what to say at first … but it was actually a lot of fun talking to him.”