Clinton recovers from surgery

The marathon surgery was performed after the two-time US leader complained of shortness of breath and chest pains on September 3 and was admitted to hospital.

Doctors at the New York Presbyterian Hospital said Mr Clinton had been in real danger of suffering a “substantial heart attack” when he arrived, with some of his heart arteries almost entirely blocked.

Dr Craig Smith who led the cardiothoracic team that operated on Mr Clinton said their patient would remain in hospital another four to five days and is expected to make a full recovery within two to three months.

“He is recovering normally at this point. I think right now everything looks straightforward,” Dr Smith said.

Mr Clinton’s wife, Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, and 24-year-old daughter Chelsea were at his bedside after the surgery.

The family thanked the thousands of well-wishers who have sent in cards, letters and emails since Mr Clinton was hospitalised.

Among the messages were words of support from President George W Bush and Democratic presidential rival John Kerry.

Bill Clinton had promised to be a “foot soldier” in the Democratic campaign to win the White House, and was reported to have had a 90-minute telephone conversation with the Mr Kerry from hospital on September 4.

With Mr Clinton now focusing on his own return to full health, there are concerns that Mr Kerry’s campaign will lose some of the charismatic ex-president’s spark at a time when polls have shown President Bush is edging ahead following last week’s Republican national convention.

CNN correspondent William Schneider joked that John Kerry is the one in need of a “rescue operation” as the November election inches closer.

New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Chief of Cardiology, Allan Schwartz, said he would encourage Mr Clinton to resume all activities, including campaigning, once his medical team deemed it safe.

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