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Apple Watch blood oxygen detection used to save son's life at 14,000 feet

Apple Watch Series 9

A 14-year-old with acute altitude sickness was kept stable through the night by being monitored via an Apple Watch with blood oxygen detection.

Apple Watches with blood oxygen detection have been banned from import to the United States, but the feature is still active on devices already sold to users. Despite not being the most flashy or vital Apple Watch features, it has been known to be crucial in helping people in tricky situations.

One Apple Watch user named Joseph reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook with his incredible story of using Apple Watch blood oxygen detection in a critical situation. He shared his story and Cook's response in an email to AppleInsider.

Joseph's 14-year-old son developed acute altitude sickness while at 14,000 feet in Peru, which can quickly turn lethal if not monitored. Thankfully, he had an Apple Watch and could monitor his son's blood oxygen levels through the night until help could arrive.

Cook responded to Joseph's email:

This sounds like a terrifying situation. I trust that he is ok now.

Thanks for sharing his story with us.

Please give him my best.


The Apple Watch is filled with sensors that can help warn a user of an impending health issue, though it isn't technically classified as a health device. That is why Masimo's CEO believes users are better off without the feature enabled.

Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 sold by Apple in the United States today have blood oxygen detection disabled. The feature is still active in international models and products purchased before January 18.