Matt Millen undergoes Christmas Eve heart transplant

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Former NFL linebacker and longtime football analyst Matt Millen received a heart transplant early Monday morning. (Getty Images)
Former NFL linebacker and longtime football analyst Matt Millen received a heart transplant early Monday morning. (Getty Images)

Former NFL linebacker, television analyst and front office executive Matt Millen is getting a wonderful gift this Christmas: a new heart.

Via NBC Sports’ Peter King, Millen was wheeled into surgery around 1 a.m. ET Monday at Newark (N.J.) Beth Israel Hospital for his transplant; around 8 a.m. ET, King offered an update, writing that Millen was out of surgery and in recovery.

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‘A perfect match’

The 60-year-old Millen was at Newark Beth Israel for three months waiting for a match; he has a rare condition called amyloidosis, which produces clumps of protein that was attacking the lining of his heart. It proves to be fatal within a matter of months for many of those who have it.

Millen’s wife, Pat, texted King from the hospital after Matt was wheeled out of the operating room. “Doctors said the heart was a perfect match and he is doing well,” she wrote. “The surgery went smoothly.”

‘When a bump comes in the road, you deal with it’

Millen played linebacker in the NFL for 12 years, the bulk for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, and his final three years with San Francisco and Washington.

He told a Pennsylvania newspaper in late April that he had been diagnosed with amyloidosis in July 2017, and that at the time of the interview, his heart was functioning at just 30 percent. Millen had been undergoing weekly chemotherapy treatments to try to treat the condition.

But in October, he left his position as an analyst with the Big Ten Network and entered Newark Beth Israel, where he would remain until a match was found and he was able to get a transplant.

“When a bump comes up in the road, you deal with it,” Millen said in April. “It’s ridiculous to feel sorry for yourself. I’m thankful for what I have, and I’ll take what I get.”

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