By Brad Edwards

MONEE, Ill. (CBS) — It was a hearty Thanksgiving for many, but especially heavy on the heart of a Monee man. He’s thankful, and a medical marvel to boot.

Months after a life-saving operation, CBS 2’s Brad Edwards revisited a man who made headlines for being the first in the state to receive an artificial heart powered by a portable power supply.

In September, 65-year-old Leroy Haynes received an artificial heart at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

“It not only changed my life, but it changed my way of thinking. It changed my values,” Haynes said.

Haynes’ artificial heart is noisy, he conceded, but it’s worth it.

“When you think about if we didn’t have the sound,” his wife Pat Haynes said, it would be too much for their love story.

A whirring sound marks the presence of Leroy’s artificial heart, a pump powered by the Freedom Driver, a backpack power supply.

After receiving the artificial heart in September, Leroy thanked the doctors at Christ, saying, “There’s a spirit about this place that encourages you, and it won’t let you fail.”

Prior to receiving the artificial heart, Leroy was at end stage heart failure. His heart is now a piece of plastic with a suitcase-like pump.

Earlier this week, Pat was hospitalized, in part due to the rigors of caretaking.

“I know that if I’m not okay, he’s not going to be okay,” she said. “I told the doctors, I said, ‘You know, no matter what you do, I have to be home at Thanksgiving.”

Leroy said, “This love started back in 1965, under an ‘L’ track on 63rd and Halsted.”

There’s no question it has been a difficult year for both of them, but Pat said, “I can’t thank God any more … he certainly has smiled upon us.”

Leroy said his artificial heart not only saved him, but made him wiser.

It’s not available to the masses. It’s still being studied.

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