Blake Johnson undergoes heart surgery

Blake JohnsonFormer IIIrd Tyme Out bass player Blake Johnson, who left the group last year owing to serious kidney and pancreas illness, had to undergo open heart surgery today at Duke University Hospital.

The surgery was to repair two heart valves that were damaged when he suffered a stroke two weeks ago. Doctors feared that waiting any longer would leave Blake open to a heart attack or a second stroke.

He was hospitalized last week at the Wake Forest Medical Center owing to a flareup of his chronic pancreatitis. Doctors there transferred him to Duke on Saturday night for evaluation.

Blake’s surgery started at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, and as of this writing, he is still in the operating room. His wife, Amber, tells us that he should be in the ICU for the next few days, and for another two weeks in a regular hospital room.

Amber says that in spite of all these challenges, Blake remains in good spirits.

“He’s got a lot going on and been very sick. Thanks so much for all the prayers and continue to pray for Blake!!”

It is expected that Blake will require a kidney transplant at some point when his health stabilizes.

A GoFundMe campaign to help support Johnson and his family has been established, as he has been unable to work for some time. Those who recall Blake from his time with IIIrd Tyme Out and Grasstowne can make donations there online.

UPDATE 10:34 p.m. – Blake is now out of surgery. His surgeon says everything went well, but that Blake’s heart is not functioning at 100%, and he isn’t sure why. He is resting now in the ICU.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.