Reece Bruin hasn't been kicked in the chest by a horse but he thinks he knows what it feels like.

The Brisbane 31-year-old was wearing an internal defibrillator when he was zapped seven times in the space of two hours.

"I was sitting down and all of a sudden I'm getting pelted," he said.

"You can always tell when you're going to get zapped because you can hear it charging to give you another [zap].


"I've never been kicked by a horse in the chest but I'm pretty sure that's what it feels like."

That's why Bruin now wears a LifeVest that sits on the outside of his body.

"They turned off the internal one because the anxiety would just send me through the roof," he said.

"It left a sour taste in my mouth."

Another time Bruin even got shocked inappropriately.

"I was running around with my mates and all of a sudden I just get shocked and thrown to the ground," he said.

Ever since Bruin has had the LifeVest he hasn't had a cardiac incident, which is why he's also been waiting two years for a heart transplant.

Now Bruin wears a LifeVest permanently and hasn't had a cardiac incident since. Photo / Supplied
Now Bruin wears a LifeVest permanently and hasn't had a cardiac incident since. Photo / Supplied

"I'm not as sick as most people who get the transplant," he said.


"I'm still able to get up, go to work, play footy. I still lead a normal life, I'm just in an extraordinary circumstance where I have to keep playing the waiting game."

Bruin was born with Ebstein's anomaly, a rare heart defect where the tricuspid valve - the valve between the upper right chamber and the lower right chamber of the heart - isn't formed properly.

As a result, blood leaks back through the valve and into the right atrium.

Bruin had his first surgery to repair a leak when he was 9 years old.

When he was 15 they tried to repair the valve itself but due to complications he was placed in a medically induced coma, where he remained for three weeks.

His lungs collapsed, he had blood poisoning and arrested twice.


He was about 20 when he had his third open-heart surgery.

In January, Bruin was placed on the heart waitlist.

His heart is too delicate to do a cardiac ablation - a procedure to scar or destroy tissue in the heart that's allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm - and so transplant is the only option.

Bruin is raising awareness for DonateLife Week in Australia, which kicks off today and runs until August 2.

"It's an important thing because people don't realise organ failure can affect anyone out of nowhere as well," he said.

"If one person dies they can save up to seven people."


"Everyone should discuss it with their family, at the end of the day they're going to have the final say."

Bruin said more men should think about registering to be a donor.

"There's a bit of a male shortage," he said.

"It's the most precious gift you can possibly give someone.

"Words can't describe how much it will mean to me."