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He says in the article he did use local anesthesia (which I cannot spell for some reason)...
Posted by Rotten from 96.252.55.*, on February 5, 12018 at 06:57:07:

Now, when I say "without anesthetic," that's slightly misleading. They couldn't give me any painkillers or anything that would knock me out, but they did use a local anesthetic to sort of numb the surgery site a little. For those of you with no medical knowledge (like me, before this happened), local anesthetics make it so that the immediate area they inject it in feels no pain. But, local anesthetics only penetrate the skin and outer layers of muscle -- they don't go as deep as the bone. And when you're doing any kind of heart surgery, step one is spreading that rib cage.