Ernie Lively was given a drug by University of Utah physician Dr. Amit Patel that contained high doses of genetically engineered DNA, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.
The drug acts as a "homing signal" that causes the body's own stem cells to repair the heart.
Patel said the drug is delivered through a catheter into the back of the heart. Blood flow to the heart is blocked while the drug is "marinating" the heart.
The procedure was performed on 66-year-old Lively Nov. 7, and three other patients have since had the procedure.
"These are patients who we normally couldn't help," Patel said. "The only option would be a partial artificial heart or a heart transplant."
Lively, now recovering at home, said in a statement issued by the university, "I woke up this morning and told my wife, 'I haven't felt this good in years."
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