Richie Faulkner says that he is feeling " feeling very strong and positive" less than two months after undergoing a life-saving surgery.
On September 26, the JUDAS PRIEST guitarist suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection during a performance at the Louder Than Life festival, just a short distance from Rudd Heart and Lung Center at UofL Health - Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. It took the hospital's cardiothoracic surgery team, led by Dr. Siddharth Pahwa and also including Drs. Brian Ganzel and Mark Slaughter, approximately 10 hours to complete the surgery, an aortic valve and ascending aorta replacement with hemiarch replacement.
Faulkner, who is now recovering at home in Nashville, offered an update on his condition in a social media post earlier today. He wrote: "Hello there maniacs! I just wanted to post, and I've had many of you asking for an update on how my recovery is going.
"I was able to return home from hospital 10 days after my surgery to continue recovery at home. It has now been 7 weeks since the night it all happened and I'm feeling very strong and positive. My incisions have healed very well and I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm walking well and moving freely, I'm pretty active and I'm starting cardiac therapy very soon. I'm playing guitar everyday and with the love and support of my family, the continued support from you guys and the inspiration that I get from the guitar, I'll be back on stage in no time! My surgeons are very pleased with my progress and have all reserved front row tickets for the next PRIEST show haha.
"It's Thanksgiving this month, and whether you celebrate it or not, I have a lot to give thanks for this year; Including all of you for your patience, your love and your support. Lots of love and I'll see you down the front soon, horns held high."
Faulkner's medical episode happened while he was performing the closing song of PRIEST's set on the final day of Louder Than Life. Faulkner later said in a statement: "As I watch footage from the Louder Than Life Festival in Kentucky, I can see in my face the confusion and anguish I was feeling whilst playing 'Painkiller' as my aorta ruptured and started to spill blood into my chest cavity."
Two weeks after his surgery, Faulkner told reporters about how he felt while performing "Painkiller" with his bandmates at Louder Than Life: "I became a bit light-headed. It didn't go away. I've never fainted before. I've never passed out, but I knew that this felt like I was going to pass out in a minute.
"Luckily, it was about half way into the song," he continued. "So obviously, I had to finish the song. If I had known how important it was, maybe I would have got off there a bit quicker. But I think that's the whole point for me. I had no idea whatsoever what it was."
Faulkner said that he experienced a sharp pain as he was stepping off the stage. "That's when it exploded," he said.
"The more I read about it, the more astonishing it is to me to think that I even made it to the hospital," he added. "The amount of time when I actually go the pain and when I turned up in the hospital and when we were actually operating, it was quite a lot of time. The more I read about it, the more unbelievable — that amount of time — I don't know how I'm still around today."
Aortic aneurysms are "balloon-like bulges in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Dissections happen when the "force of blood pumping can split the layers of the artery wall, allowing blood to leak in between them."
After Louder Than Life, JUDAS PRIEST postponed the remainder of the U.S. dates on its rescheduled 50th-anniversary tour, dubbed "50 Heavy Metal Years". The trek kicked off on September 8 in Reading, Pennsylvania and was slated to run through October before concluding on November 5 in Hamilton, Ontario.
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