At first, doctors refused to operate, insisting the experimental surgery would be too risky.
But concerns did not deter Guy Pardue from putting on the pressure until they relented.
On May 30, the first artificial aortic heart valve replacement procedure was a success at the Michael E. DeBakery VA Medical Center in Houston.
Now Pardue, 87, who moved to Bastrop recently, can breathe easier and enjoy simple pleasures in life, like eating certain types of food.
“I had watermelon on the Fourth of July, and that’s eating high on the hog for me,” he joked. “I was just a guinea pig in an experimental surgery. I feel great now.”
Pardue served as a Marine during World War II and witnessed the carnage of the Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, including bloody corpses pulled to the beach from ships.
“Some call me a hero,” he said. “But I am not a hero. My cousin passed away the other day, and he was in the Bataan Death March. Now that’s a hero.”
For Pardue, his life-saving surgery may have been bumps in the road, but for science and doctors, it made history.
The surgery was quick and recovery was easy, he said.
“I never knew they did anything,” he said of the surgery. “I went to sleep and woke up. They told me everything was alright. I had a team of six doctors and nurses with me constantly.”
Prior to the surgery Pardue suffered from aortic valve stenosis, an age-related disease caused by calcium deposits in the valve causing it to become more narrow.
Aortic valve stenosis causes blood flow to become restricted, and when it becomes severe it causes shortness of breath, chest pain, hypertension and heart failure.
He said that the doctors did not want to operate on him at first, saying the surgery was too risky.
Their resistance prompted Pardue to resort to artistic measures in order to change their stance.
“I sang to them ‘Everything’s gonna be alright,’” he said. “And they told me that if I had that much faith, then they would perform the surgery.
“I said, ‘Let’s go!’ And I had no pain. I just knew it would be alright, because it was in God’s hands.”
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