Havel undergoes emergency surgery in Austria

by Sarah Mitchell

President Vaclav Havel, vacationing in Austria, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday for what a doctor said was an intestinal perforation.
After an operation in Innsbruck that lasted about three hours, Havel’s medical chief said fears of a malignant tumor were not confirmed. Dr. Miroslav Cerbak, briefed on the president’s condition from Prague, said tonight that Havel’s large intestine apparently had been perforated by an inflammation, the CTK news agency reported.
The success of the operation was not immediately known.
It was the fourth hospitalization for the 61-year-old president since December 1996, when in surgery for lung cancer he had one-third of his right lung and a half-inch tumor removed.
Havel and his wife Dagmar left Prague last Thursday for an Easter vacation in the Austrian Alps. His spokesman Ladislav Spacek said the president was in pain on Monday, but a doctor was summoned only this morning.
Havel, accompanied by his wife, was then rushed to hospital in Innsbruck with a suspected perforation of the colon, Spacek said.
Havel’s personal physician, Dr. Ilja Kotik, traveled to Innsbruck to tend to Havel.
At the University Clinic in Innsbruck, chief surgeon Dr. Ernst Bodner told The Associated Press that Havel was in “very serious” condition. “He has an acute stomach condition,” Bodner said, saying he could not give exact details because diagnosis was still ongoing.