Senoia pilot with new heart allowed to fly once again thanks to Piedmont Hospital, FAA

A Senoia pilot is back in the air after the FAA gave him a special medical clearance following a heart transplant at Piedmont Hospital. We're told it's a lengthy process and a rare step by the safety agency.

Sam Khair’s long journey back behind the controls is pretty amazing. He had a heart transplant two years ago, but the 61-year old lost his pilot’s license in 2020 because of his failing health before then.  

Khair got his license back this Spring after navigating incredible and very serious government scrutiny of his health.

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Losing his license was disappointing to him. "It put me in a depression form. It was just one of my passions and it was one thing I didn’t want taken away from me," Khair said.

A bit about Khair’s health story. The insurance man from Senoia was hospitalized with the flu in 2018 and doctors say it caused congestive heart failure -- a condition that brought him near death in 2022 until the transplant at Piedmont Hospital.

"Most of these patients enjoy a good life," said Dr. Ezequiel Molina of the Piedmont Heart Transplant Program. "They obviously go back home, spend quality time with their families and many of them return to work."

Sam credits his continued good health to his faith and family as well as a healthy attitude, but he has longed for a hefty altitude to complete his life once again.

After a lengthy medical evaluation, the FAA had ruled he is safe to fly again. He has completed some qualification flights already and wil pilot his first solo flight soon.  

Piedmont Hospital has performed 168 heart transplants in the last 11 years, 63 in the last 11 months so a 700% increase this past year.

The FAA approval is something Piedmont Hospital celebrates with Sam.

"Well, I love it. The FAA is considered the gold standard in safety and quality," Molina said.

"God has given me time," Khair said. "It’s everything. Something we all take for granted."