Report: Former Lions’ president Matt Millen awaits heart transplant

He battles amyloidosis, a rare disease

Matt MIllen is suffering from amyloidosis, a rare disease, and may need a heart transplant.

The former Detroit Lions president and chief executive officer has revealed his illness in an interview with Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call.

Amyloidosis occurs when abnormal proteins called amyloids, produced in the bone marrow, build up in organs or tissue. Though there’s no cure, amyloidosis is treatable with chemotherapy (similar to multiple myeloma) to stop cell growth, according to the report.

“Doctors have said he needs a heart transplant, since his is working at about 30 percent of capacity. He has undergone chemotherapy most every Monday for eight months, and the side effects usually linger until Wednesday,’’ according to the story.

Millen was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in July after living with symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath) for six years. By then, the disease, which has no cure but is treatable, had affected Millen’s heart to the point that a transplant became necessary, per Wogenrich.

His next step is visiting Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles for a second round of transplant evaluation. next week, according to the story.

Millen was hired by the Lions 2001 and fired in week 4 of the 2008 NFL season. His eight-year tenure led to the worst eight-year record in the history of the modern NFL (31-84, a .270 winning percentage). Millen was the architect of the 2008 Lions who became the first NFL team to go 0-16.

Millen, who played at Penn State, won four Super Bowls while playing for the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins.

He plans to return to the broadcast booth in the fall.



Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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