Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice delivers his annual State of the State address in the House of Delegates chambers at the state Capitol in Charleston on Jan. 11. (AP Photo)

CHARLESTON — A late-night announcement of gallbladder surgery Monday for Gov. Jim Justice was the latest in a string of health issues for West Virginia’s leader.

The Governor’s Office issued a press release after 9:30 p.m. Monday announcing Justice had successful surgery to remove his gallbladder Monday afternoon after encountering issues last Thursday.

“Gov. Jim Justice underwent routine and successful gallbladder removal surgery this afternoon,” the release stated. “Despite never having gallbladder issues before, he had a sudden flare-up last Thursday evening. After consultation with his doctors, they recommended it be removed.”

Specific questions to the Governor’s Office about when it was decided that Justice needed surgery and where the surgery was performed have gone unanswered. According to the Mayo Clinic, gallbladder removal, also called a cholecystectomy, is a fairly common surgery where patients are often sent home the same day.

“Gov. Justice is currently resting well, in good spirits, and anxious to get back to work serving the great people of West Virginia,” the Governor’s Office said in Monday night’s press release.

Justice, 72, is wrapping up his seventh year as governor as his second term comes to a close at the end of 2024 and as he begins a run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate next year. A 2019 profile of Justice by Forbes Magazine said Justice is 6-foot-8 and weighs 368 pounds. In a 2018 press release, Justice himself poked fun at his own health.

“I’ve had no recent doctors’ appointments but the last time I did they told me I’m in wonderful health, except for being a little chunky,” Justice said.

Health issues and concerns have hounded Justice ever since he first took office as a Democrat in 2017. Justice’s weight and height have caused him issues with his feet, limiting how long he can walk and stand. Justice often has to be driven up to entrances of the Governor’s Office, the Governor’s Mansion, the Culture Center and other properties on the grounds of the State Capitol Complex. Staff often bring a wooden stool for Justice to sit on at public events.

Justice has also had several illnesses over the last nearly seven years while in office. West Virginia MetroNews reported in 2017 that Justice sought treatment at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine for an unknown viral illness.

Just prior to his annual State of the State address in January 2022, Justice tested positive for COVID-19 with serious symptoms, postponing his address to the Legislature. A few months later, Justice said a tick bite caused him to feel ill after participating in a WV GameChangers event and he was treated for Lyme disease symptoms. And earlier this year, Justice tested positive for COVID-19, but with more milder symptoms than his 2022 infection.

Justice’s health issues have also caused rumors to spread among lawmakers and others in the Capitol over the years, including rumors that the governor would resign. Justice issued a press release in January 2018 around the time of his second State of the State address to squash a series of rumors at that time regarding his health.

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