PM’s heart surgery likely Saturday, Pranab to officiate


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to undergo a bypass surgery here Saturday afternoon, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

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External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will officiate in his absence, the sources added, but the minister himself told reporters that it was “too premature to speculate”.

Manmohan Singh, who was discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Thursday following an angiography Wednesday, was readmitted to the hospital Friday. Extensive medical tests in the last two days had revealed that he had multiple arterial blockages.

“He could have carried on for a few more days but the prime minister’s family felt the surgery should happen at the earliest,” said a senior bureaucrat.

He added that the prime minister had initially said that he wanted the procedure after the Republic Day celebrations, but the family did not want to postpone the surgery.

Mukherjee, who has just returned from Afghanistan, will officiate in Manmohan Singh’s absence, the sources said, adding the prime minister will take a month or more to recover from the surgery.

Calling it “a normal routine thing”, Mukherjee said he had discussed Manmohan Singh’s illness and “certain other matters” with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

But he quickly added: “It is premature to speculate. He is going for his treatment. We don’t know how long it will take, what will happen.”

The prime minister’s health will be reviewed Friday evening by a team of doctors headed by his personal physician K.S. Reddy. A call on when to conduct the surgery will be taken after that, a senior doctor at AIIMS said.

Following the angiography on Wednesday, doctors had made it clear that the prime minister did not face any medical emergency. The prime minister himself said he felt no discomfort while the tests were carried out.

The prime minister’s medical team, headed by Reddy who is the former chief of cardiology, had said Thursday: “Singh is stable. Fresh treatment plans will be developed over the next few days.”

According to AIIMS sources, the prime minister had had a heart surgery 18 years ago.

The prime minister had earlier been operated for a benign enlarged prostate and for nerve compression in both wrists.