Former Penn State standout Matt Millen gets new heart for Christmas, is 'doing well'

(San Jose) Mercury News (TNS)
  • Matt Millen reportedly underwent a successful heart transplant on Christmas Eve.
  • The 60-year-old Millen was diagnosed earlier this year with amyloidosis.
  • Amyloidosis is a rare disease that can attack the lining of the heart.

Former Penn State standout Matt Millen reportedly underwent a successful heart transplant early Christmas Eve and is in recovery in New Jersey.

The 60-year-old Millen, who was diagnosed earlier this year with amyloidosis, a rare disease that can attack the lining of the heart, has been hospitalized for the past three months while waiting for a match. NBC Sports columnist Peter King reported a match was found on Sunday, and Millen was wheeled into surgery around 1 a.m. Eastern time Monday at Newark Beth Israel Hospital.

FILE - This ia an Aug. 14, 2015, file photo showing former NFL player Matt Millen before an NFL preseason football game between the Raiders and the St. Louis Rams in Oakland, Calif. Millen, who starred at Penn State, says he is being treated for a rare disease that has robbed his heart of most of its normal function. The 60-year-old Millen told the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania that he has been diagnosed with amyloidosis, a life-threatening illness that may force Millen to seek a heart transplant. Millen has been receiving chemotherapy once a week to treat a condition that his left his heart functioning at just 30 percent. Millen played 12 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL for the Raiders, 49ers and Redskins _ and won four Super Bowl rings.

The procedure went about as well as could be expected, according to King.

“He is out of surgery, and his wife Pat tells me the doctors told her it was a perfect match and he is doing well. Surgery was a success,” King reported.

Millen, who won a pair of Super Bowls with the Raiders, one with the 49ers and another with Washington during his 12-year NFL career, stepped away from his job as a Big Ten Network football analyst in October. He said doctors told him his heart was working at just 30 percent capacity.

After years of heart problems that confounded doctors, the former All-Pro linebacker was told he has amyloidosis, an incurable disease that fewer than 200,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States.

Millen was matter-of-fact when discussing his grim diagnosis with the (Allentown) Morning Call (Pa.) a few months ago.

“I look over my life and it’s been a storybook,” Millen said. “I have an awesome family, a phenomenal wife, and you can’t ask for more.

“So you’re not supposed to take the good with the bad? It’s ridiculous to feel sorry for yourself. I’m thankful for what I have, and I’ll take what I get.”

What Millen wound up getting sure sounds like a Christmas miracle.