VIDEO: How This Soccer Referee Beat Heart Failure and Got Back in the Game

Johnny, 55, had been a soccer referee for more than 34 years. But in 2016, his heart failure nearly put him on the sidelines, permanently.

After suffering a severe heart attack commonly referred to as a “widow-maker,” Johnny was diagnosed with heart failure. Further tests revealed that his ejection fraction — the amount of blood that exits the heart each time it contracts — was only 14%. A normal ejection fraction is typically between 55% and 70%.

Doctors tried a number of different treatments, including stents and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), but despite their best efforts, a few weeks later he went into cardiac arrest. Johnny’s heart had been so damaged that he needed a transplant, but his doctors feared that he wouldn’t survive long enough for a matching donor heart to become available. That’s when they approached Johnny and his family about implanting the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH) to bridge him to transplant.

Watch the video below for Johnny’s full, inspiring story.