Best of Grizzard- Pig Valves Again

  • Friday, May 26, 2023
  • Jerry Summers

Due to overwhelming support from over five million members of the powerful national organization, PVSA (Pig Valve Survivors of America) in opposition to the decision by local and state federal grant recipients in the medical field to discontinue the humane and life saving practice toward Lewis Grizzard’s (L.G.) Pig Pals it is necessary to supplement the prior article.

In the April 28, 2023 article the life-long experiences that Lewis Grizzard had shared with members of the porcine (pig) race was discussed as a result of being born with a heart murmur and his surgical adventures with three pig valves and one mechanical valve prior to his death on March 20, 1994.

In his 1982 book “They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat” (Peachtree Publishers Limited) he shared some additional conversations with his surgeons prior to his first pig valve operation at the age of 35.

The additional funny exchanges with his three physicians are also worth repeating and supplementing those in the original tale.

L.G.’s concern for not only his own health but that of his aortic valve donors suggest that he would have taken some position as a Good Samaritan on the bar by the UT Medical Center at Erlanger Hospital to cease tearing out part of the heart of Porky/Petunia in the name of medical science objected to by PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals)

In a professional and caring fashion the following pre-surgery conversations between the patient and his docs took place:

“My doctors assured me the installation of a porcine valve into my heart would have no effect upon my taste and desire and enjoyment for good barbecue.

“You might have some other problems, though,” said one.

“You might want to go out and root for truffles occasionally,” he laughed.

“And you might crave watermelon rinds and corn cobs,” said another.

“What you really have to watch,” a third chimed in, “is every afternoon about four o’clock, you might get this strange desire to go out and make love in the mud.”

Doctors stay inside too much, I think.

Aside from the questions of the durability of the valve and the barbecue thing, there were a couple of other concerns.

I wondered where they kept the hogs who were kind enough to donate their valves for people in my condition.

You know the outrage we have over the slaughter of baby seals. They go out and hit those baby seals in the head with a lead pipe or something, and people are up in the air about that everywhere.

I was afraid they kept the hogs in a pen out behind the hospital. I’ve been prepared for surgery and the doctor says to an orderly, “Leon, go out to the hog pen and get me a valve.”

Leon goes out to the hog pen with a two-by-four and whomps a hog on the head and they take out his valve.

The doctors assured me nothing like this took place, which was a relief. Hogs have feelings, too, I expect.

I considered the question of porcine versus mechanical valve for about a minute.

MECHANICAL: I couldn’t get the idea of dragging a leg very far out of my mind.

PORCINE: So it wears out in ten years. At least I wouldn't have to take the blood thinners and worry about a stroke. And medical science moves so swiftly. In ten years, who knows? Maybe they would come up with a solution where you just take a pill.

There was just that one other thing I wanted to know after the decision was made to install the porcine valve.

“It’s just a little thing,” I said.

“Shoot,” said one of the doctors.

“Do the pigs that give up their valves have names?”

The doctor said he would check.

“Do you have a preference of a name for your donor?” he asked.

“Not really,” I answered. “Just as long as it isn’t Lamar.”

(These words of wisdom demonstrate that L.G. had a caring heart towards his porcine donors - even though it was a bad one!)

* * *

You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com

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