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Yeltsin’s Surgery Likely Soon

Wed., Oct. 30, 1996

Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin’s heart is stronger and his internal bleeding has stopped, apparently clearing the way for his coronary bypass operation as early as next week, a consulting American surgeon said Tuesday.

Dr. Michael DeBakey gave his assessment in Houston five weeks after examining the Russian leader in Moscow and hearing from Yeltsin’s doctors on his progress. He said he will return to Moscow later this week to take part in a final decision on Yeltsin’s fitness for a triple or quadruple bypass.

If Yeltsin is declared ready for the operation, that would put Russia and its first freely elected leader one step closer to their moment of truth. Yeltsin’s illness has set off a power struggle among would-be successors, unsettling this nuclear-armed nation as it strives to establish a free-market democracy without clear rules of presidential transition.

His surgery already has been postponed once because of potential complications. Yeltsin last month was bleeding internally, and, as a result, suffered severe anemia. His thyroid gland was weak and his heart, apparently damaged by the summer attack, needed time to stabilize, experts said.

Presidential spokesman Sergei V. Yastrezhembsky announced Monday that Yeltsin’s meetings with his aides had been canceled for the rest of the week and that preparation for surgery was in the “final phase.”

Tags: health

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