Milford Graves: A Jazz Drummer’s Fight to Keep His Own Heart Beating
By Corey Kilgannon
August 5, 2020
In the 1960s, Milford Graves became a groundbreaking drummer in avant-garde jazz, but intertwined with his career had been his constant study of music’s impact on the human heart.
Now Mr. Graves, a 78-year-old who lives in Jamaica, Queens, has become his own subject: He has amyloid cardiomyopathy, sometimes called stiff heart syndrome.
Doctors have informed him that the condition, also called cardiac amyloidosis, has no cure. When he received the diagnosis in 2018, he was told he had six months to live.
Since then, Mr. Graves said, he has come close to death several times because of fluid filling his lungs. His legs too weakened to walk, he remains in a recliner in his living room with a tube feeding medicine to his heart and another draining fluid from his midsection.
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