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Panthers owner Richardson receives heart transplant

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was recovering Monday after having a heart transplant.

The team issued a statement that said Richardson, 72, underwent the overnight five-hour procedure at Carolinas Medical Center. He had been on a heart transplant list since December.

Team officials said Richardson was resting comfortably Monday morning in the hospital's post-operative cardiovascular recovery unit.

Dr. Mark Stiegel, one of the doctors who performed the surgery, said "the donor heart was working well." The normal recovery time is three to six months, the team said.

Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Richardson was notified Sunday about 5 p.m. that a donor heart was available, and his surgery began around 8 p.m.

Richardson was told he needed the transplant during a hospital stay related to the installation of a pacemaker. He then was placed on a donor waiting list.

A former wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts, Richardson caught the winning touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas in the 1959 NFL championship game. He was awarded the expansion Panthers in 1993, becoming the first former player to own an NFL team since George Halas, the late owner of the Chicago Bears.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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