Former baseball player talks about his time in the pros, credits Houston area doctor with saving his life

He now has a mechanical pump helping his heart after heart failure

HOUSTON – Jim Breazeale launched from the minors to major league baseball from 1968 to 1972 and played alongside some of the best-known in the business.

Some names that may be familiar to you are Phil Niekro, Hank Aaron and Dusty Baker.

“My first year, I played with the Braves manager, Dusty Baker. We were both kids back then,” Breazeale said. “I’m happy for him because I know he’s an easy-going guy and I know he’d be a great guy to play for.”

Despite being a healthy and active youth, Breazeale suffered from heart failure in 2021. He spent a month in the hospital and now has to wear an LVAD.

According to Dr. Sriram Nathan at the Center for Advanced Heart Failure with UT Health and Memorial Hermann, before LVAD was an option, patients wouldn’t survive outside of the hospital. Now, Dr. Nathan said patients like Breazeale can go home, recover and live normal lives with the LVAD.

“Once they get a pump and they get discharged, they can live close to 90%, one-year survival. So, you’re increasing their life expectancy by 40% in one year and it’s a tremendous gift for people who have had this kind of advanced heart failure,” Dr. Nathan explained. “Now, they’re living their life, going home and they’re able to meet their friends and family and they’re not gasping for every breath of their air.”

Breazeale now gets more time with the most important players in his life: his wife, kids and 15 grandkids. He said he’s getting stronger all the time and he believes he’s still here for a reason.

“I’m just so thankful. I think God’s been with me every step of the way,” Breazeale said.