A blood clot pressuring the right side of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s brain, relieving pressure that had been giving her headaches and numbness has been removed by doctors.
Their report said she was “evolving favourably” after the surgery, and would remain hospitalised for now.
The president’s spokesman went further as he briefly addressed a crowd of supporters outside the hospital, saying “the operation went very well” and that Fernandez was happily thanking all those who helped her.
“She’s in very good spirits. She’s greeting everyone. She thanked her medical team, she thanks all of you who are praying for her. She’s in very good spirits, so the next medical report will come at midday tomorrow,” Alfredo Scoccimarro said.
Experts described the procedure – drilling through the skull and suctioning out the fluid – as low risk and almost always having positive results, but recovery can take three months or more, and many Argentines have struggled to imagine their country with anyone but the 60-year-old leader at its centre.
Many cheered after she emerged from surgery at the Fundacion Favaloro. Some had spent all night holding vigil, carrying statues of the Virgen of Lujan, Argentina’s patron saint, and messages such as “Fuerza Cristina,” urging her to show her strength.
Scoccimarro did not answer questions after his brief announcement on the hospital steps.
Fernandez was diagnosed with “chronic subdural hematoma,” or fluid trapped between the skull and brain.
This can happen when the tiny veins that connect the brain’s surface with its outermost covering, or dura, tear and leak blood.
As people age, it can happen with a head injury so mild that they don’t remember it.
In the president’s case, doctors initially prescribed a month’s rest, because in some cases the fluid can be absorbed without intervention, but they decided on surgery after she complained of numbness and weakness in her upper left arm, in addition to the headaches and irregular heartbeats she has been suffering.
Fernandez, who followed her highly popular husband into the presidency, has dominated Argentine politics during her nearly six years in office.
Now she’s out of commission just three weeks before voting day.
Her executive powers were formally transferred to Vice President Amado Boudou as she was prepared for surgery, though no document describing the extent of his powers was released, generating a debate over how long he can remain in charge during her recovery without an act of Congress.