Enlarge He is EXTREMELY fortunate to be alive right now.

Judas Priest Guitarist Richie Faulkner Suffered an Aortic Aneurysm + Dissection

  • Axl Rosenberg

Last week, Judas Priest were forced to call off the remainder of their then-in-progress U.S. tour after guitarist Richie Faulkner was hospitalized with “major medical heart condition issues.” It was later reported that he underwent ten hours of emergency open heart surgery, which, thankfully, he came through okay.

Now Faulkner has released a statement detailing his ordeal, in which he reveals he suffered an aortic aneurysm and dissection. “From what I’ve been told by my surgeon,” Faulkner says in his statement, “people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive.”

Speaking from too-much personal experience with this exact ailment, I can tell you, getting the patient to the hospital alive is unlikely… getting the problem diagnosed in time to do anything about it is unlikely (in fact, it’s often misdiagnosed, and patients are sometimes sent home only to die hours later — that how both Three’s Company star John Ritter and Rent creator Jonathan Larson died) surviving the ensuing emergency surgery (for which ten hours or more is fairly standard) is unlikely… waking up from the medically-induced coma into which doctors need to put you to perform the surgery is iffy at best, and if you do wake up, the chances of permanent brain damage are serious… and even if you make it through all of that, you’re going to suffer a lot of permanent damage, and you’re going to spend the rest of your life dealing with the fallout.

That Faulkner isn’t intubated and is able to communicate coherently right now seems pretty miraculous to me. I don’t know if it speaks to his relatively young age (41) or a good health regimen or excellent genes or what, but holy shit, he is a lucky, lucky man to be alive right now.

You can read Faulkner’s entire statement below. We know how long and hard the road ahead of him is now, and we wish him all the best.

Judas Priest are scheduled to play support on Ozzy Osbourne’s tour of Europe and the U.K. next year (although, again, I’d be pleasantly surprised if Faulkner was in performing shape three months from now). Dates are as follows:

Jan. 26 – Germany – Berlin Mercedes-Benz Arena [Tickets]
Jan. 28 – Czech Republic – Prague O2 Arena [Tickets]
Jan. 31 – Switzerland – Zurich Hallenstadion [Tickets]
Feb. 02 – Hungary – Budapest Budapest Arena (no Judas Priest) [Tickets]
Feb. 05 – Spain – Madrid WiZink Center [Tickets]
Feb. 08 – Italy – Bologna Unipol Arena [Tickets]
Feb. 11 – Germany – Mannheim SAP Arena [Tickets]
Feb. 14 – Germany – Hamburg Barclaycard Arena [Tickets]
Feb. 17 – Finland – Helsinki Hartwall Arena [Tickets]
Feb. 19 – Sweden – Stockholm Friends Arena [Tickets]
Feb. 21 – Germany – Dortmund Westfalenhalle [Tickets]
Feb. 24 – Germany – Munich Olympiahalle [Tickets]
Feb. 27 – UK – Nottingham Motorpoint Arena [Tickets]
Mar. 01 – Ireland – Dublin 3Arena [Tickets]
Mar. 04 – UK – Birmingham Resorts World Arena [Tickets]
Mar. 07 – UK – London The O2 [Tickets]
Mar. 09 – UK – Manchester AO Arena [Tickets]
Mar. 12 – UK – Newcastle Utilita Arena [Tickets]
Mar. 14 – UK – Glasgow The SSE Hydro [Tickets]

“I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with.  I’ve always considered myself THE most fortunate man ever – to be able to play my favourite music – with my favourite band – to my favourite people around the world…
“Today just being able to type this to you all is the biggest gift of all…
“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….
“I was having what my doctor called an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection.
“From what I’ve been told by my surgeon, people with this don’t usually make it to the hospital alive…..
“I was taken to nearby Rudd Heart & Lung Center and quickly went into what turned out to be a 10 ½ hour emergency open heart surgery
“Five parts of my chest were replaced with mechanical components…..I’m literally made of metal now….
“It could have all ended so differently – we only had an hours set that night due to Metallica’s performance after us – and it does cross my mind if it was a full set, would I have played until total collapse…? If it hadn’t happened in such a high adrenaline situation would my body have been able to keep going long enough to reach the hospital…?
“The amazing Heart & Lung Center was 4 miles away from the gig site – if it had been further away……..
“We can always drive ourselves crazy with these things but I’m still alive thankfully.  Whatever the circumstances, when watching that footage, the truth is, knowing what I know now, I see a dying man…..
“I’ve been moved to tears and humbled by friends, family, my fantastic band, crew and management and also you guys sending me videos and messages of love and support during the last week – I thank you all so much and although I have a recovery road ahead of me, as soon as I’m able to get up and running again, you’ll be the first to know and we’ll get back out there delivering the goods for you all….!
“One last thing maniacs, this came totally out of the blue for me – no history of a bad heart, no clogged arteries etc…my point is I don’t even have high cholesterol and this could’ve been the end for me.  If you can get yourselves checked – do it for me please……    

“Lots of love and see you down the front again soon….

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