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.
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.