OLIVOS, Argentina: Doctors treating Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who had successful brain surgery to remove a blood clot, are “amazed” at the rate of his recovery, his physician said Wednesday. Surgeons at a private clinic in Buenos Aires spent 80 minutes removing the clot on Tuesday night. “I just saw him, he’s switched on, in a very good mood. We are amazed at how he’s healing,” said the doctor, Leopoldo Luque, who provided an update on the 60-year-old’s condition. “But we have to be careful because we are still in the post-operative period,” he cautioned.
“It is clear that he has no neurological complications,” said Luque, speaking to reporters through a mask. “There are other parameters that we are waiting to evaluate, because it is still very early. But the recovery is excellent.” The comments sparked loud cheering and chanting from fans of Maradona who have hung banners depicting his glory day outside the clinic. “Once more his health has played a trick on him but he has antibodies to recover with the help of the people,” fan Oscar Medina told AFP.
World Cup winner Maradona had been taken to hospital in La Plata — where he is the coach of top-flight side Gimnasia y Esgrima — on Monday for a series of tests after feeling unwell. A scan revealed the blood clot, and on Tuesday he was transferred to the clinic in a northern neighborhood of the capital. “We managed to successfully remove the clot. Diego coped well with the surgery,” Luque said in an earlier update.
Maradona, who turned 60 last week, has suffered ill health before. He has survived two heart attacks, and also contracted hepatitis and underwent gastric bypass surgery. Following this surgery, fellow Argentina football star Lionel Messi sent him a message of support. “Diego, all the strength in the world. My family and I want to see you well as soon as possible,” said the Barcelona forward, who like Maradona in his pomp wears the No 10 jersey.
Due to his age and previous health issues, Maradona is considered high risk in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Argentina hard. Several times in the last eight months he has been in isolation and was forced to stay at home last week after a bodyguard showed coronavirus symptoms, although he later tested negative. Prior to falling ill, Maradona had been depressed, his lawyer Matias Morla said on Wednesday.
The famously fast-living icon had only been able to spend half an hour at his own birthday celebration at his team’s training ground on Friday, when he had difficulty walking. “He was behaving strangely. He was very depressed and spoke about dead relatives that he missed,” said Morla. He said Maradona was “very worried” about the surgery and praised Luque, adding that “if he hadn’t detected the clot, Maradona’s fate would have been different.” Luque insisted on Tuesday that the procedure was “a routine operation.”
“The operation consists of a small incision to drain the blood. In 24 or 48 hours the patient can leave the hospital,” neurosurgeon Raul Matera told TyC Sports channel. Maradona’s daughter Dalma said she had visited her father after his surgery but did not give further details of his condition. “I just want to thank everyone for the constant displays of love for my dad, for my sister and for me, thanks to everyone who prayed for him,” she tweeted on Wednesday morning.
Maradona was transferred from the hospital in La Plata, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Buenos Aires, to the capital at 6:00 pm (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday accompanied by another daughter, Giannina. Dozens of Gimnasia fans outside the La Plata hospital chanted his name as he left.
Earlier in the day, Luque claimed Maradona was suffering from anemia — a lack of iron in his system — and dehydration. He also suggested Maradona’s lifestyle had contributed to his condition. “He’s an elderly patient with many pressures in his life. It’s a time when we must help him. It’s very difficult to be Maradona,” Luque said of the star.
He said it was a condition that also affected Vice President Cristina Kirchner when she was president. “It breaks my heart to see him like this,” Giannina tweeted the next day. Maradona has difficulty retaining iron due to gastric bypass surgery he underwent in 2005 to lose 50 kilograms (110 pounds), leaving him prone to anemia, Luque said. Though he has recovered from a well-documented addiction to hard drugs, Maradona takes medication in the form of tranquilizers and anxiolytics. – AFP