Richie Faulkner “forever grateful” to the surgeons who saved his life following major heart issues in 2021

The guitarist was rushed to hospital after suffering an acute cardiac aortic dissection during a Judas Priest show in September 2021.

Richie Faulkner has discussed the heart problems and subsequent emergency surgery he had in 2021, explaining that he’s “forever grateful” to the surgeons who saved his life.

On 26 September 2021, the Judas Priest guitarist was performing at Louder Than Life festival in Kentucky when he had an acute cardiac aortic dissection. He required emergency surgery, in which he received an aortic valve and ascending aorta replacement with hemiarch replacement, taking over 10 hours at the nearby Rudd Heart & Lung Center.

He later explained that it was completely unexpected – he had no medical history of heart, cholesterol or artery problems – and urged fans to get checked.

And in a new video from UofL Health, coinciding with the two-year anniversary of his surgery, Faulkner pays tribute to the surgeons who operated on him, saying, “They saved my life. They made it possible for me to come home and hold my daughter again and cut the lawn and play guitar and do all the normal things that I can do. So I’m forever grateful to them.”

On the moment he knew something was wrong, he explains, “I was halfway through the last song of the set, which fortunately was the last song of the set. I say luckily because if it was another 40 minutes to go, I would have carried on, because at the time, you know something is wrong [but] you don’t know, obviously… there’s no way I’m gonna know what that is.

“Here was like an exploding in the chest area. And as the song went on, I started to feel a bit lightheaded. And I thought it was a heart attack. Anything around that kind of area, I’m thinking, ‘Well, what else could it be?’ And at the end of the song, I pick the guitar up with one hand, and I lift it up in the air. And this time I took the guitar off and I tried to lift it and I just couldn’t. And they took me to the hospital, which was fortunately three or four minutes away.”

A year later, Faulkner underwent a second heart surgery. Fortunately, he’s doing well now – he told Consequence of Sound earlier this year that he “got off lightly”, and has just had to make a few minor changes to his lifestyle.

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