Medtronic Supports Patient Swimming English Channel

As Doug McConnell prepares to swim the English Channel to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Medtronic said that it will match fundraising contributions up to $50,000.

Medtronic, Inc., is joining the fundraising efforts of a medical device recipient, who plans to swim across the English Channel to help fund research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) treatments.

Doug McConnell of Barrington, Illinois, who has one of Medtronic's artificial cervical discs implanted in his back, will attempt to traverse the 21-mile stretch between England and France in August.

McConnell is using the challenge to raise awareness about ALS and fund research at the Les Turner ALS Research Laboratory at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Medtronic said last week that it will match contributions up to $50,000 in the effort.

ALS, often called Lou Gehrig's disease, attacks people's muscles, gradually robbing them of their ability to walk, speak, eat, and breathe. It primarily affects adults between the ages of 40 and 70. While some symptoms are treatable, there is currently no cure.

Medtronic said that while it doesn't study ALS at the moment, it conducts research that may further the understanding of other neurological disorders similar to ALS.

“Medtronic is extremely proud that Doug benefits from one of our technologies, and we hope that our partnership in helping Doug raise ALS research funding will result in increased understanding of this devastating disease,” Pat Wilson, marketing vice president of Medtronic's spinal division, said in a statement.

Medtronic is Minnesota's seventh-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $15.8 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.