April 17, 2013, - 6:23 pm

RIP Pat Summerall, But Shouldn’t Alcoholics Be on Bottom of Liver Transplant List?

By Debbie Schlussel

If you are an American football fan over age 35, then you probably know the name Pat Summerall. And you probably know that Summerall died yesterday at age 82. He was an NFL player for about a decade and called football games for much longer, teamed with John Madden for a good deal of that time. But Summerall was an alcoholic, and he needed a new liver because of it. After that, he turned things around and recovered from his alcoholism. That and his new liver saved his life and prolonged it a great deal.


On this site, I’ve written about the deaths of other famous people who were alcoholics and got liver transplants. And some readers brought that up, objecting to liver transplants for alcoholics when others–such as those stricken by liver cancer, those with birth defects or bile ducts problems, etc.–are behind them in line. And they have a point. Should people who damage their livers because of their own actions–ie., alcoholism–get livers ahead of others who did nothing to put themselves in the circumstance of needing a liver . . . or should they be sent to the very back of the line because of their contributions to their condition? What do you think?

In any event, Pat Summerall, Rest In Peace.

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39 Responses

Hi Debbie – this is Off-Topic, but only because I am unable to comment on the major topic of the past couple of days. Every time I try to go to the second page of your blog dealing with the threat America faces, the site crashes.

I can read other blogs. I restart the computer, but the same thing happens. Is there anything you can do about this?

Nir: I fixed this problem. For some reason, every time I post a video from ABC or TMZ, it does this after a few days, and I have to take the video down. But it should work now. Pls let me know if it does not. DS

Nir Leiu on April 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks Debbie – it’s now working. Shalom.

    Nir Leiu on April 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

No way should they get ahead of the innocent on liver transplant list.


As goes ... on April 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I think people have to take responsibility for their actions, and that he should not have been put ahead in line.

I especially think that celebrities should not be advanced in line.

Little Al on April 17, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Oh, and convicted felons shouldn’t get organs either!

As goes ... on April 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I’ll give him a pass for these reasons:

1. He had quit drinking many years before needing the transplant and remained sober – this means he made a prior commitment to living a clean and reformed life. I believed him to be fully repentant for his prior actions.

2. He remained clean AFTER the transplant, again, demonstrating a commitment to living in a reformed manner.

3. He did before, and continued after, to make significant contributions in his field and to society as a whole.

We all make mistakes, and the chance to repent and reform should always be available to those who truly embrace it, which I believe Pat Summerall did. May he rest in peace.

StillShakingMyHead on April 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

While I agree, for the most part, with the above opinions, as a person that has seen what cancer can do, I wonder if doctors KNOW that most with cancer, of almost any kind, won’t live long enough with a transplant, as opposed to those with lesser liver problems. Folks, if it’s in the liver, it’s almost certainly gone to every lymph node. Sad but true. I have told my wife that I do not want to go through the “quality of life” crap that my brother did. He had his reasons, but bottom line is, he died.

WilliamMunny on April 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Let us distinguish between alcoholics in need of a liver and celebrity alcoholics who need a liver. It is the celebrities that are moved to the top of the list.

Robert Altman, an extremely liberal director, received a heart transplant, even though he was close to 80. Heart transplants are not even supposed to be given to people that old, as it is a bit of a waste of a heart. This is morally and ethically wrong.

Larry Hagman, John Phillips, and countless others have been moved to the top of the list, not just because they have money, but because they are famous. Meanwhile some poor schnook who did everything right but was not a celebrity cannot get the organs they need.

How many more people would donate organs if they knew that the system was fair?

Finally, a scary story my doctor told me. A patient of his is admitted to the emergency room, where a transplant is on duty. The patient OD’d. The EEG was flat. The transplant doctor wanted to declare the patient dead and cut out the organs. My doctor refused to agree, saying that in many drug overdoses with flat EEG lines, the patient recovers. The transplant ghoul, err, I mean physician was insistent, but my doctor held his ground. Guess what? The patient made a full recovery in 48 hours.

It kind of gives you pause when it comes to donating.

Jonathan E. Grant on April 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    JEG, I have firmly been anti-organ transplant for many years. Your story strengthened my already strong resolve.

    (And I do not want a transplant because I am against them.)

    In the 90s I used to listen to NPR. It’s gonna sound weird but I had no idea they were left wing. Just thought they were the news that played Jazz in the evenings. I heard a story (on Lefty NPR) about people who wanted organ donations. They seems so selfish to me (which was not the brunt of the story but I picked up on it & it annoyed me!). More interested in the organ than the person dying. That’s unethical in my book. Since then, by happenstance, I have come across many people who are “transplant ghouls” (that’s the perfect name for them JEG, kudos!). I never knew others felt like me because I never discussed it because my view seemed controversial.

    I have even talked with Liberals who actually agreed with me. I have never forgot that. I am personally against being an organ donor and I don’t like people who want an organ and don’t care about the person dying. That’s not nice!

    Skunky on April 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Same here. And it’s sort of the same progressive forces mantra they use to brainwash and herd people into donor cards on their driver’s license.

      That’s tantamount to asking the doctors to let you die on the ER table so they can harvest your organs. I warn everyone I care about to not check th4e organ donor box.

      DS_ROCKS! on April 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm


    Rich people can always buy what they want and money speaks louder in this world – that’s the way life has always been and will always be.

    What I hate is the arrogance of people who presume their wealth and fame makes them better than the rest of us – they aren’t.

    And when people abuse the system at others’ expense because they think they deserve what is coming to them, that has me peeved.

    Not all famous people are like that but some are. Then again I’m not going to judge a person on whether they earned it. Only G-d knows whether that is ultimately true.

    And in the end, death is the true leveler – rich and poor alike leave the world the same way they came into it. There is nothing like human mortality to remind us of our need to be humble in life, no matter what our station might be in it.

    NormanF on April 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm

In my opinion, people deserve a second chance – if they turn their lives around like Pat Summerall did, they deserve that gift.

I don’t believe someone should have to die because of their own mistakes. If they don’t learn from them, that’s their cross to bear.

I think every one is deserving. Its how they use what they’ve been given that tells us whether they’ve truly fulfilled the second chance they were given.

NormanF on April 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Oh yeah, I only know of Summerall as he was also a tennis commentator. Before I got into tennis, but I would watch old matches. (Like Martina Navratilovas, who has recently blocked me on Twitter, LOL!!!)

RIP Pat Summerall!

Skunky on April 17, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I drink a lot, so I am biased here, but I will say that a lot of people destroy their liver by eating junk food. In that its also the same as drinking, they are addicted to junk foods and can’t stop eating it. If there was a clear or black and white line between those who are at fault and those who are not, then by any means put unfortunate ones ahead of those that do it to themselves, but do not single out just alcoholics.

max on April 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Sorry Max, but drinking and drugs will destroy a liver faster than my Milky Way will.

Jonathan E. Grant on April 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    That’s true Jonathan, if you drink way too much alcohol and become and alcoholic, it’ll affect you’re liver, just as if you eat too much pork, it’ll mess up you’re arteries.

    As for me, I do drink and eat pork, but I eat pork and drink alcohol on a seldomly basis, rather than a regularly basis.

    As for Pat Summerall, RIP sir, you we’re a terrific play-by-play man in you’re day sir, DS, I happen to be one of you’re fans/readers who younger than 35 years old, and I remembered hearing Mr. Summerall’s voice when I was watching NFL football games both at CBS and FOX Broadcasting!

    “A nation is defined by its borders, language & culture!”

    Sean R. on April 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Being Jewish, I never consume pork, and I don’t drink alcohol. H

      Jonathan E. Grant on April 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm


The only drug I consume every day is aspirin for my heart.

I never touch liquor and I’ve never had any interest in abusing drugs.

NormanF on April 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

They should absolutely at the bottom or erased from the transplant list. That is obvious.
Another outrage most people don’t know about is the fact that INMATES are in there as well. The very worse people in our society are getting cornea transplants, livers, etc., anything they need, that somebody good could have had. I’ve seen career criminals get hips replaced and mistreat hospital staff, and create sexual offenses while in the hospital regularly. Politicians in the positions to stop this and staff that are liberal bleeding hearts are responsible for this. They also are stupid enough to defend it when asked about it. Several repeat sex offenders and murderers, lifers milk our government dry with their self injurious behaviors as well. Those are the real scum bags.

samurai on April 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Most of you know nothing about the man or the game he called. He and Coach Madden were the best tandem ever. Just compare his work to the blowhards like Dan Dierdorff, Joe Buck, Greg Gumbal, Dick Engerg, and if you live in the San Francisco market, Joe Starkey, Greg Papa and the worst of the worst, JT The Brick. Don’t forget he did play in the show and made millions on EA Sport with all the Madden games. Madden games are the best!

My impression of Pat: In my monotone voice, “Aikman to Earving, Touchdown!

AR on April 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Regarding organ transplants, of course everyone knows that if one if wealthy, one jumps a head of everyone else. Steve Jobs for example, got to the top of the list and got a liver without delay. The former VP got a transplant immediately. In California, the illegals get to the front of the line at tax payers expense. See the story of the illegal that worked for Pacific Steel, taking a job from an American, no doubt, got one immediately from USCF hospital. USSF had the right idea of denying the illegal but the communists in this area, along with the hoards of illegals protesting and the hospital buckled from the publicity and caved in and gave him a new liver. Then there is the little illegal alien girl in LA. The first two livers failed so she got a third at our expense. Did I mention the fact that UCLA medical center gives out liver transplants to gang members from Japan’s Yakuza, because they can fork over a million in cash to pay for the procedure?

AR on April 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Every other American has to pay for transplants, and illegals and inmates get their transplants for free!!! Outrageous.

    Jonathan E. Grant on April 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Yes, and when I asked about the subject of a female at the U of M, she was outwardly hostile at my asking. The person was a life long meth manufacturer and user, with a horrible set of manners that usually only criminals possess. But I was out of line.lol

      samurai on April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm

There are so many people wanting to judge other people based on what they drink, what they eat, how much they weigh, what they do with their spare time and who knows what else, I am sure the list is open to additions. We are in for a lot more of this with Obamacare. This will go further than whether or not someone wanting a transplant drank. If you look up what the system considers an “alcoholic” it would surprise you. A lot of you might be considered an alcoholic based on their definition. You might be someone who is in good shape, trains with weights, and runs a couple miles every other day, but according to their charts, be “obese”. Then, they will tell you, hey, your lifestyle costs us too much money, go away and die in an alley someplace. I really don’t know what to say about this issue. Being in he position to decide whether someone else lives or dies would suck, in my opinion.

RT on April 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    You said it RT. Dumb-ass Obama-Putin voters have no clue what a Pandora’s Box of horribles they opened. Thank goodness I don’t want someone else’s liver, heart, etc…and no one is getting mine.

    The Wild Rumpus has not even started. It’s gonna be horrible!

    Skunky on April 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm

When they do their triage, they should issue some of the people “Manitee Grey” hospital gowns, so you don’t get people mixed up.

RT on April 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm

In 1995 at the age of 54,my mom was innocently sentenced to death.She got hepatitis c from a blood transfusion and didn’t make it to the transplant list.Though she said she would never have one that wasn’t the point for Larry Hagman had his transplant in 1995.My answer is no they should not!

Tammy Summers on April 18, 2013 at 12:07 am


if you watch a movie supersize me, you’ll know that you can get pretty good liver damage with junk food. maybe not bad enough as alcohol, but bad enough to cause damage.

max on April 18, 2013 at 12:56 am

    That Spurling guy from “Supersize Me” is a moron and not-so-clever, sensationalist doc-maker. He knows how to sell movie trash to the great unwashed, but I wouldn’t look to him for any scientific advice. He’s a jackass.

    DS_ROCKS! on April 18, 2013 at 1:23 am

I occasionally consume a beer or vodka, but I agree w/ people above – those who are alcoholics should be behind those who have nothing to do w/ their poor liver condition.

Infidel on April 18, 2013 at 4:18 am

Good question Debbie. Receiving a new liver does not necessarily ensure turnabout in lifestyle. I opt for those unfortunate enough to have liver problems through no fault of their own.

Naomi R. on April 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

Mickey Mantle is the first I knew about that got special treatment. They shouldn’t be denied the first one, but shouldn’t be moved up after that.

colt13 on April 18, 2013 at 10:21 am

IMHO many here are missing the point. It’s the Rich & Famous Celebrities who get preferential treatment. One example Mickey Mantle. The blame goes to the hero worshipers who allow this.

Robert A. on April 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

Alkies and those who apologize for them and enable them always think they deserve special attention and or when they live normally they deserve some special recognition. Their arrogance, narcissism and grandiosity ARE their problem, along with the alcohol. They don’t deserve anything, much less anything special. The reward for living normally is living normally. Same thing goes for all addicts, including food addicts with diabetes and their commensurate costly health problems. These people make decisions that destroy them and are medically costly. Let them bottom feed and wait their turn.

Pray Hard on April 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

I worked in alcohol and drug rehab and everyone who does knows that, “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” You may stop drinking, but relapse is always a real possibility. How do you know that an alcoholic has stopped drinking, short of regular lab tests? You don’t. You only have their word for it. I’m not being malicious when I state that they should go to the waiting line for a new liver; I’m just dealing with the reality that some poor sob who donated their liver may have done so simply so some drunk could keep on drinking.
I knew of a case where they did a transplant on someone with Alzheimer’s disease! Why? Their insurance was very good! Disgusting!
Also, anyone thinking of donating their body to medical schools needs to rethink it. I knew med students who told me that the instructor mocked the obesity of a female cadaver donated to the school. Nice, eh? You donate your body to science and it becomes an object of insult and desecration.
These cases have made me rethink my organ donation instructions. My donor card used to state that I donated my entire body. Now, it only says that I will donate my eyes.

Jim on April 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

Wow. Protocol states that Alzheimer’s patients are not supposed to get transplants.

Well, fortunately we are at the point where new kidneys, livers, and even hearts are being grown in the lab, at least on an experimental basis. It will be expensive, but at least no one has to worry about the doctors allowing you to die to give your parts to the next celebrity drug addict.

In fairness though, I always wanted one of my parts in Valerie Bertinelli.

Jonathan E. Grant on April 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Hi JEG – I recall an actor who was pleased to get a small part in Dr. Quin, Medicine Woman.

    Nir Leiu on April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Certainly getting a liver transplant has the economic side to it. If you can pay the care provider may bump you up to a priority status. And if you are struggling to cover the cost then the care provider may choose to wait for a time. Only the care provider knows the margin for time to wait for those who need one but cannot afford one. Still, this choice is difficult and a moral one. My opinion, maybe for those who can afford priority a surcharge can be added on to cover some of what those who cannot pay for the full amount. Still not a comprehensive solution but a start.

jake49 on April 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Organ transplant is a racket run by who else… the federal government. What else do you expect, favoritism, politics, graft and corruption.

The whole organ transplant is a con.

I am not in favor of the whole business.

I suggest it was probably set up especially for those 1% types like Pat and other government types.

Panhandle on April 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

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