WASHINGTON: Veteran US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, remained hospitalized on Sunday after surgery to repair torn aorta, a US official said.
Holbrooke, 69, fell ill at the State Department on Friday and was admitted to nearby George Washington University Hospital for treatment for this life-threatening condition.
Holbrooke underwent another procedure on Sunday to improve his circulation and remains in critical condition, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement.
“Today, Ambassador Holbrooke underwent an additional procedure to improve circulation following yesterday’s surgery,” the statement said. “His family is grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers coming in from his many friends, colleagues and leaders around the world.”
Holbrooke’s wife, Kati Marton, received calls from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke with Karzai, the State Department said.
White House adviser David Axelrod told the CNN program “State of the Union” that Holbrooke is a “very tough person.”
“He had a tremendously difficult situation Friday. He had an aortic bleed, and many people would have succumbed to that.
Richard is fighting through it. Anyone who knows him — and I was with him Friday morning before this happened — knows how tough and resilient he is. And we’re all praying that that quality sees him through now.”
Holbrooke brokered the 1995 accord that ended the Balkans war and is now a key player in Obama’s efforts to turn around the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Holbrooke’s illness comes just before the White House is due to roll out an assessment of the revised strategy for the troubled region that Obama unveiled a year ago.
The aorta is the major artery that carries blood out of the heart to other parts of the body.
His condition is known as an aortic dissection and it carries the risk of serious complications such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, according to experts.
They say a torn aorta can stop blood flow to places like the brain, the heart, arms, legs, kidneys and intestines, and can lead to bleeding into the sac that surrounds the heart, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.