It's not every week someone discovers a life-threatening medical condition and also gets an internship offer delivered personally by Apple CEO Tim Cook, but that's how things unfolded for 17-year-old Paul Houle Jr.
Houle, a senior at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, was at pre-season football practice when he noticed something was wrong. His Apple Watch, which he'd bought a few days prior, showed a resting heart rate of 145 beats per minute — much higher than his typical resting heart rate of 60 or 70 beats per minute. He also had back pain and was having difficulty breathing.
That night, he told the team's trainer about his heart rate. After taking it again manually — it still showed 145 beats per minute — the trainer took Houle to the emergency room. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, also known as "CrossFit's dirty little secret." It's a condition the National Library of Medicine defines as "breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents into the blood," which can lead to kidney failure.
"At the hospital they told me that if I had gone to practice the next day that 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.
He noted he was extremely thankful for the heart rate monitor, even though he hadn't given it much thought at first. "I thought it was a neat little feature, but didn't see myself really using it," he told the Huffington Post. "What I thought was so tiny and not important turned out to be a life-changing decision."
Apple took notice. Word of Houle's story eventually reached Apple head honcho Tim Cook, who decided to surprise him with a phone call.
"I got a phone call from a California number, and he said 'Hello, my name is Tim Cook, CEO of Apple,'" Houle told CBS San Francisco. According to Houle, Cook offered him an internship at Apple's headquarters next summer as well as a brand-new iPhone 6S.
"[Cook] asked me about college, since I'm a senior, and what I plan on studying, which is electrical engineering," Houle told Business Insider. "He told me to stay in touch because Apple will always have a spot for me and offered me an internship with them." He said that another employee contacted him after to talk through plans for the internship.
"She said you usually have to be a university student with all of these credentials," he said. "But when the CEO offers you a job, you kind of get to skip all those."