Richie Faulkner Feeling 'Strong' Again After Near-Death Experience Onstage

Photo: Getty Images North America

Judas Priest's Richie Faulkner has issued another encouraging update just about eight weeks after he underwent 10-hours of open-heart surgery to save his life.

During a September 26 performance with Judas Priest in Lousiville, Kentucky, the guitarist suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection — a rare and deadly condition in which the largest artery in the body breaks open.

Faulkner, 41 — who has no personal or family history of heart issues — has been recovering at his home in Nashville.

"I was able to return home from hospital 10 days after my surgery to continue recovery at home," Faulkner explained in an update issued via the band. "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."

He concluded that he has "a lot to give thanks for this year," including his family and Judas Priest's loyal fans who have been sending him messages of encouragement and inspiration daily.

Faulkner's first update came after he returned home from the hospital in early-October. He counted his blessings then, too, noting in a statement that not only did the pain of his condition hit him during the band's last song of the evening, but the show was also taking place just a few miles from the renowned Rudd Heart and Lung Center when it occurred.

Though many praised Faulkner for finishing the set that night despite being in mortal peril as his aorta spilled blood into his chest cavity, he shrunk away from the adulation. The reality of the situation was far too sobering.

Faulkner was told by his surgeon that "people with this don't usually make it to the hospital alive," and a lot of things had to go right for him to survive. He argued that as a new father, he should have had more perspective on how his health affects his young family.

Judas Priest postponed the remainder of its U.S. tour until Faulkner is well enough to rejoin the group.

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