PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher and current Root Sports analyst Kent Tekulve has undergone successful heart transplant surgery.

According to a press release, the surgery was performed on Sept. 5 at Allegheny General Hospital. He was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 12.

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“He did very well initially and came off the ventilator within 24 hours of his surgery, and much like with his LAVD surgery, he really bounced back remarkably quickly,” Dr. Stephen Bailey.

Prior to the surgery, Tekulve was being assisted by a left ventricular assist device, which helps a weakened heart muscle.

“Mr. Tekulve is a perfect example of the life-saving potential of mechanical heart assistance in the setting of severe heart failure,” Allegheny General Hospital’s Advanced Heart Failure, Transplantation, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Pulmonary Hypertension Program, Medical Director Dr. Raymond Benza said.

Tekulve was fitted with the device in 2013, while he awaited transplant surgery.

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The biggest challenges now are fighting infections and rejection. Doctors say they want him to be physical – walking, mild exercise, and of course, a heart healthy diet.

“The first six weeks is probably the most critical time, then the first six months,” said Dr. Benza. “Usually, if we can get people past the first six months with as few problems as we can, then that usually launches them to a really great place.”

Tekulve released this statement while he continues to recover:

“I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has been so supportive over the past six months, including my family and friends, all of the wonderful people in the Pirates organization and at Root Sports, and all of the outstanding healthcare professionals at AGH who have taken such great care of me. Most importantly, however, I would like to extend my eternal gratitude for the gift of life that I received through organ donation,” Tekulve said.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland