Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

AUSTIN, Texas (KDKA/AP) – Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says “it’s great to be alive” this Thanksgiving.

Ridge issued a statement Wednesday from the hospital in Austin, Texas, where he’s recovering from a heart attack.

He says he’s thankful for the “outpouring of love and concern” after his health emergency.

He says he’s filled with gratitude, even though his doctors won’t let him touch turkey and mashed potatoes.

The statement reads in full:

“The list of things for which I am thankful was already spilling off the page. Now I’m going to need a bigger notepad. Michele, Lesley, Tommy and I cannot begin to express how much your outpouring of love and concern meant to all of us in the wake of my health emergency. Your prayers gave us all strength and great comfort.

I hadn’t planned on spending my Thanksgiving in Austin. And my doctors won’t let me touch turkey and mashed potatoes quite yet. But all things considered, I can’t think of anyplace else I’d rather be.

“The tremendous professionalism, compassion and care I was shown here in Texas is something our family will always remember and be thankful for. From the hotel staff at the JW Marriott and the paramedics who helped resuscitate me and rushed me to the hospital to the ER doctors, nurses, cardiac staff and administration at Ascension’s Seton Healthcare Family – each helped play a critical role in my recovery. We will never be able to thank you enough.

“I wish everyone a wonderful, restful and peaceful Thanksgiving. It’s great to be alive, enjoying the embrace of family and friends, and the blessings of so many who have been looking out for us.”

He had been attending a Republican Governors Association conference last week when he called for medical help at his hotel.

The Republican served two terms as Pennsylvania governor from 1995 to 2001. He was the first homeland security secretary, serving under President George W. Bush until 2005.

Officials say Ridge is listed in fair condition at Seton Medical Center Austin, and only immediate family is allowed to see him at this time.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)