Detroit pastor returns to church after receiving artificial heart

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Since last November the room at Henry Ford Hospital has been a home away from home for Johnnie Alexander.

“They said I needed to check myself in my heart was really failing,” he said.

The retired law enforcement officer turned preacher had heart disease, It was so dire doctors told him his days were numbered.

“He gave me a choice it's either that or they was going to put me into hospice care,” Alexander said. 

Surgeons told Alexander and his wife Feliesha the only option left was the FDA approved artificial heart. 

“You essentially remove patient's ill heart and you replace it with a mechanical pump that supports both sides of the heart until they have a donor ready for transplant,” Alexander’s Cardiologist Jennifer Cowger said. 

On December 2017 Alexander became the first successful recipient of an artificial heart at Henry Ford Hospital.

“This device here is my artificial heart, like American Express I can't leave without it. It does its job, its pumping the heart through the chambers making sure the blood continues to flow through my body,” Alexander said.

It weighs 13 pounds but it’s as big as the ocean for me,” he said 

After months of recovering, doctors granted Alexander his first official day pass on Sunday. An opportunity to leave his hospital room and venture outside to a world he almost had to say goodbye to.

“He's not through with me and hopefully I'm not through being down here,” he said.

Alexander decided to go to Redeemed Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit where he is the pastor. He used his voice to sing a song of praise.

Alexander says church has always been an inspiration to him and he hopes his story will inspire anyone who has heart disease to seek medical treatment. 

“Don't ever give up no matter how bad it looks there is hope,” Alexander said.

If you would like to learn more about Alexander's medical treatment go to

As Alexander continues to recover, he says he's just thankful that he can see another day.

“I'm really grateful for the doctors but all praise and glory belongs to God,” he said.