This Father’s Day, Leeza Gibbons will be able to celebrate with her “optimistic, fun loving, very active 88-year-old” father Carlos — but that’s all thanks, in part, to a medical device that saved his life.
When the TV personality first found out that her father had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, she encouraged him to take precautions by purchasing a Philips Lifeline medical alert system because of his high risk for getting a heart attack.
“I told him it would give me peace of mind and keep me from worrying so much about him,” Gibbons, 60, tells PEOPLE. “Sure enough, one night when daddy was heading back to bed from the bathroom, a heart attack hit. He fell to the floor and was nowhere near his phone.”
Luckily, her father was able to push the help button on his Philips Lifeline device, which signaled ambulances to come immediately to his home. Within minutes, he had assistance.
“Minutes matter,” Gibbons says. “If he hadn’t been able to push his help button, I don’t think dad would have made it.”
“I’m a daddy’s girl,” she continues. “The fact that something so simple and so accessible can be so meaningful is really powerful.”
With his device, her father is able to continue living independently and do anything he wants knowing that he has help available 24/7 all across the United States. Since Gibbons’ charity supporting caregivers, Leeza’s Care Connection, has a flagship location in her South Carolina hometown, where her father lives, she’s able to see him often.
“That gives me an extra reason to go home several times a year, so I feel really blessed to have many occasions to visit with my father,” she says. “[He’s] truly my role model for growing old with an eye on what’s left rather than what’s lost.”