JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford has offered an update on Richie Faulkner's recovery after the PRIEST guitarist suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection during the band's performance at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky in late September. Faulkner was rushed to the UofL Health - Jewish Hospital where the cardiothoracic surgery team needed approximately 10 hours to complete a life-saving surgery.
Speaking to the "SpeedFreaks" radio show, Rob said about his bandmate (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "He's doing remarkably well. He saw his doctors recently again, who performed this miracle of surgery, and they're over the moon in the way that he's repairing and healing.
"It was an unbelievable night," Halford continued. "We had this fantastic show at the Louder Than Life festival up in Kentucky. And the show was going great. And then we came offstage. 'Where's Richie?' The paramedics are looking after him. Something's happening. Without going into too much lengthy detail, less than an hour later, he was in almost 11 hours of heart surgery.
"I'll tell you what's a miracle about that. The Lord intervened, because it's all about timing. He was barely 10 minutes away from one of the greatest heart surgeons in the world — a team, a great team of people — so they got in there quickly.
"When I was talking to him, he was getting undressed and dressed to go to the hospital, and at that time, his aorta had ruptured and his chest was filling with blood. But his doctor said he was so high on adrenaline — and this happens in sports; guys play with a broken whatever; your adrenaline is pushing you through. So he got to the hospital and then this incredible dream team of surgeons saved his life. It is an absolute miracle.
"Because you know what it's like. With guys — I suppose everybody, to a certain extent — but with guys, 'Oh, I'll be all…' 'Cause we were gonna go to Denver that night — we were gonna take the plane and fly to Denver. He could have said, 'Let's figure this out when we get into Denver.' What would have happened if he had made that move. He followed the advice.
"Always listen to these professionals, especially now," Rob added. "Listen to them — something that is so valuable, listen to the experts, 'cause they know the best solutions.
"So, thank you. He's doing good, he's doing well. All those dates that we had to shuffle around are being shuffled around as we speak, and we should be making an announcement fairly soon about the rescheduling of the dates.
"We thank our fans for being so patient for us. Everybody's rooting for Richie around the world — there's been a lot of love and prayers for this guy — and it's working out great."
Faulkner had "an aortic aneurysm and complete aortic dissection" while 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.