Bill Gates, a 65-year-old veteran was one of the first to be treated with the world's smallest heart pump who now finds himself at war with his own health.
He's lost a leg to diabetes, had his first heart bypass 11 years ago and has suffered at least three heart attacks.
"I was about 100 percent plugged up," he says.
Until now his only weapon in the fight against clogged arteries was open heart surgery, which his doctors in Arizona said he wouldn't survive.
"I figured it was the beginning of the end," he sobs. "Excuse me, now I have life you know?"
Bill says that new life came in the form of a pencil-sized miracle called the Impella.
Cardiologist Dr. Paul Teirstein is the first in the country to use the device, considered the world's smallest heart pump.
"You insert it through a tiny hole in the leg and it's able to pump as much blood as the heart pumps," Dr. Teirstein says.
Through this minimally invasive procedure, the pump energizes the heart's blood flow and essentially keeps the patient alive while doctors work to unclog and repair the arteries. Once the work is done, patients like Bill have a fighting chance with a stronger heart.
"Before we had this device if I had operated on Bill, he might have done well but he might not be alive today," says Dr. Teirstein.
The latest results have a much happier ending.
"I might get to see my granddaughters go to college," Gates exclaimed.
The Impella heart pump can pump up to four liters of blood per minute, so it allows the heart to rest while damaged arteries are repaired.
Earlier versions of the pump could only provide about two and a half liters of blood flow per minute.