JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner has thanked Dr. Siddharth Pahwa, cardiothoracic surgeon at Rudd Heart and Lung Center at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, for saving his life.
On September 26, Faulkner suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection during a performance at the Louder Than Life festival, just a short distance from the hospital.
Faulkner, who is now resting at home in Nashville, spoke to reporters and Pahwa via a video link at the end of last week. He said: “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. 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.”
“Luckily, it was a short set, and we would have come off stage anyway,” Faulkner continued. “Otherwise, I don’t know I would have come off stage.”
“The more I read about it, the more astonishing it is to me to think that I even made it to the hospital. 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.”
“Listen, I’m 41 with no history,” he added. “You could be the same. Go and get checked. Get in front of it if there’s anything like that. If there’s not, great. Take it from me: Just go and get yourself checked out.”
As for how he plans to eventually return to action with his PRIEST bandmates, Richie said: “Get better first. Don’t rush. And then we’ll get back to seeing when we can get back out there and play some more PRIEST. But at the moment, it’s focusing on getting ready, getting better, getting my energy back and my strength back. And at some point, I’ll pick up the guitar again and seeing if I can knock out some riffs.”
Speaking directly to Pahwa, Faulkner said: “You saved my life. My little girl saw me come home, and that just means everything. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart. There’s really nothing more to say other than that, really.