COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Tommy Taylor needs a miracle. He has uncontrollable high blood pressure and had been in a clinical trial for the last six years.
But in one week, he will have surgery to remove a device from his chest that has been keeping him alive.
He doesn't want your sympathy. He wants your prayers.
"Psalms 118 verse 17. I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord," Taylor said.
Taylor believes these words.
"I'm staring death in the face or it's staring me right in the face and it's my faith that's given me the peace," Taylor said. "Without my faith in Jesus Christ there is no way I could deal with this."
Taylor has been dealing with high blood pressure since he was 19. For most of his life, he's kept it controlled with medication.
"I was in the best health of my life," Taylor said.
Taylor spent his career traveling the world as a gospel music singer. He even ran marathons, running all over the state, often with his wife, daughters, and even his parents.
"I was training for the New York Marathon," Taylor said.
One month away from the New York dream when one day he couldn't make it home.
"Like a light switch went on, and I was unable to control my blood pressure," Taylor said.
"It had me where I couldn't run. I couldn't breathe hardly and we started seeking help."
Taylor has malignant hypertension.
"I've gone to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I've been to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. I've been to Emory in Atlanta. I've been to Oshner at LSU which is in New Orleans. I've gone to the best hospitals in the world and doctors shake their head," Taylor said.
His doctors didn't have answers, but 6 years ago, Taylor found a clinical trial designed to help patients like him.
"I've got a device in my chest which is like an iPhone. It constantly sends electric volts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week constantly to my carotid arteries, stimulating them to lower my blood pressure," Taylor said.
It's called a Rheos Baroreceptor.
"It feels like someone is grabbing my neck, but it's given me life for 6 years, so you live with things," Taylor said.
The company CVRx, out of Minnesota, designed the clinical trial with about 300 patients from across the country for 5 years.
"The end result was supposed to be FDA approval," Taylor said.
But that didn't happen. The trial ends April 1, and Taylor says he was given three options.
"I got a registered letter and I was asked if I wanted to have the device removed, if I wanted to let the battery run dead, or if I wanted to have the device replaced at my own expense."
That cost would be close to half a million dollars every year. So, he may be getting the device removed.
"I don't have a 10 percent chance of living, but I'm at peace with it now," Taylor said.
Taylor says doctors tested the device by turning it off for 5 seconds.
"My blood pressure went from 150 to 350 over 245 in 5 seconds," Taylor said. "For me it's absolutely without question what's kept me alive for the past 6 years."
Taylor has spent his life traveling the world. Now, at 59 years old, he is coming to grips with a life or death decision he feels forced to make.
"I feel like a prisoner that's committed a crime that has an execution date. Except I'm not a prisoner," Taylor said. "I have committed no crime."
"You can't imagine, when you're given a date you know that you're going to die."
But through it all, Taylor says God is his saving grace.
"I know where I'm going. I know where I've been. And I'm O.K.," he said.
"I need a miracle. I need a miracle. I know God's gonna do it because, see this is what I stand on right," Taylor said, holding up a copy of the Holy Bible. "This is all my hope. This is my faith."
Taylor's surgery is next Thursday morning in North Carolina.
A pilot from Augusta is donating his time and plane to fly Taylor's family back for Columbia.
Once back in Columbia, he says doctors will do what they can to help save his life.