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Australia's foreign minister grounded by surgery

08-01-2011 16:28 BJT

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's frenetic foreign minister will be grounded for two months while he recovers from successful open heart surgery, his cardiologist said following Monday's operation.

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd gestures as he speaks during
an ASEAN-Australia Ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, July 21, 2011.

Kevin Rudd, dubbed "Minister for Foreign Air Fares" in the media because of his hectic schedule, underwent an aortic valve transplant in his hometown of Brisbane.

It was the 53-year-old former prime minister's second valve transplant. The first was in 1993.

Rudd's recovery is essential to the survival of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government, which is retaining power with a single-seat majority in the parliament. Commentators often say her center-left Labor Party is "only a heart attack away from losing government."

Cardiologist Malcolm Davison said the four-hour operation was a success, but that Rudd would remain in intensive care for up to three days.

"At this stage, we're extremely pleased with his progress," Davison told reporters at St. Andrews War Memorial Hospital after the surgery. "We expect a full and complete recovery by about eight weeks."

Rudd suffered rheumatic fever as a 7-year-old, which weakened his heart. His first transplanted valve was made from donated human tissue.

Davison said the new valve was made from cow tissue. It is expected to last for 15 to 20 years before it will need to be replaced.

Rudd announced July 20 that he needed surgery. Since then, he has traveled to Indonesia and Somalia on official business.

Rudd, who was prime minister until he was toppled by Gillard, his former deputy, in an internal Labor Party coup in June last year, is renowned for his punishing work load. He has been campaigning hard to garner international support for Australia gaining a seat on the UN Security Council.

The Mandarin-speaking former diplomat to Beijing became Australia's foreign minister when Gillard's government was re-elected last August.

His wife, Therese Rein, said she would struggle to keep Rudd away from work for two months.

"Our present challenge is not really that he won't recover with more energy than he's had before, but rather my challenge is to keep him as still as possible for as long as possible," she told reporters.


Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China Daily

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