(WICHITA, Kan.) — Sixty-nine year old Virgil Richards from Wichita, Kansas says he's lucky to be alive but doctors would describe the last few months as nothing short of a miracle.
"I feel much younger, I feel like I can do about anything I want to do," says Virgil Richards.
Walking and talking at his Cardiologist's office, three months ago, Richards could barely stand up.
Years after suffering a major heart attack, Richards' doctors told him he was in heart failure.
"It damaged the left side of the heart which eventually got weaker and weaker," says Richards.
Too weak to pump blood to his organs, his doctor told Richards he would die.
"I'm not ready for the lights to go out yet, I've got lots of things to do," says Richards.
In order to do the things he wanted, Virgil had to get a Left Ventricle Assist Device or LVAD, it works like an artificial heart.
A titanium pump attached to Richards left ventricle and aorta is powered by batteries that connect to a cord coming out of Richards' body.
"There are a lot of heart failure patients who would be prime candidates for this," says Lonnie Huddleston with INTEGRIS Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
But many doctors don't know the technology exists.
Implanted near the heart, the LVAD replicates normal heart function.
The LVAD weighs less than four pounds and measures about four inches in diameter and two inches in depth.
INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center is the only facility in Oklahoma and much of the region to offer this therapy.
The device is the first of a new generation of blood pumps to receive FDA approval in the United States.
Unlike the first generation devices containing pulsing pumps and valves, these continuously flowing rotary pumps do not need such components and so are smaller, quieter and less prone to complications.
Richards received his implant in Oklahoma City, he's one of only four patients in Kansas with an LVAD and the first in Wichita.
"That's what we're trying to do today just spread the word to people who have heart problems that there is something that can be done," says Richards.
Because Richards says everyone deserves a shot at a miracle.