Rochester, N.Y. - Strong Hospital made history by implanting the first artificial heart in Upstate New York.
Doctors shared details of the historic surgery this afternoon with the media.
Gaetano Orlando, 49, received the artificial heart on April 4.
Orlando played for the Buffalo Sabres and Rocheser Amerks.
Doctors said the surgery was one option to keep Orlando alive until a heart is available.
"Without this technology being available, he was in a situation where he was acutely ill," said Dr. H. Todd Massey. "You certainly were not going to get a donor heart for him."
Orlando suffers from sarcoidosis, which is a rare form of heart failure that impacts all four heart chambers.
URMC is one of 30 sites in the country that offers artificial heart implant surgery.
Doctors had to remove the left and right ventricles and valves to implant the SynCardia device.
"He's an amazing man, a great father, one of the nicest human beings I've ever met...just a good person," said Tony DiCesare, who's known Orlando for decades.
URMC said it has 32 patients waiting for new hearts.
Orlando will stay in the hospital for a few weeks and be added to the heart transplant list.
Dr. H. Todd Massey said Orlando can live with the artificial heart for a long time.
SynCardia says the longest a person has used its device while waiting on a new heart was 46 months.