Liberty University President and prominent evangelical Donald Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr. recently underwent an innovative surgery to repair a hole in his heart.
Falwell and his doctors told medical school students at the Virginia-based Christian institution on Wednesday that he underwent a new procedure called NobleStitch last month in Fairfax, Virginia.
In the procedure, a microscopic needle is used to sew a hole in the heart back together. The procedure takes about an hour and does not require a permanent device to be implanted in the heart or open-heart surgery.
Since its approval, only about 130 NobleStitch procedures have been completed in the United States while over 1,500 NobleStitch procedures have been completed worldwide. According to Liberty University, no complications have been reported from the NobleStitch procedure.
Falwell explained that he was connected with NobleStitch inventor Dr. Anthony Nobles in May through renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who now serves as Trump's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
The 56-year-old Falwell, who had two small strokes in 2016 and often suffered from migraines, said that he told Carson of his health issues when he came to the Lynchburg campus to speak to Liberty's first wave of medical school graduates.
After being connected with Nobles, it was determined that Falwell was a candidate for the procedure after a birth defect called Patent Foramen Ovale was discovered.
"This is so incredible. If we had not started a medical school and had Ben Carson as our graduation speaker, I wouldn't have known I had a PFO and I never would have gotten it fixed," Falwell told the students during a medical school event. "I told him about the two little strokes I had in 2016 and I was tingling on my right side for a couple of days and it went away. We took it seriously."
Falwell added that it is a "miracle" the way it happened.
"Ben Carson said I was very fortunate that I hadn't had a major stroke," Falwell said.
Although he was sedated, Falwell recalled that he was out of the facility within an hour and was back in the gym lifting weights within a week.
"I have noticed in the gym that I don't get winded when I do cardio," he said. "I figured out now that part of that blood was going over without going through my lungs."
Falwell was joined at the Wednesday medical school event by Jim Thompson, a surgeon and medical director of Child Cardiology Associates, and Nobles.
"Most people go to their grave not realizing they have a PFO," Thompson, the only doctor in the U.S. who has performed NobleStitch surgeries, said. "But if you look at young, healthy people who have strokes and you can't find a reason, about 50 percent of those people have PFOs."
The Wednesday event was part of the medical school's Grand Rounds series, where medical professionals are invited to present their unique contributions to medicine.
Falwell told CBN News that he spoke with Trump over the phone about a week after the surgery took place.
"He called me about a week later at about 11:30 p.m. at night and said, 'Jerry, I need you. You've got to take care of yourself. How did it go?'" Falwell recalled. "And then he said, 'Ben Carson told you about this?' I said, 'yes.' He said, 'Well then, I get credit right?' And I said, 'Yes, this is my reward for supporting you.'"