Suharto improving after mild stroke

Hospital doctors are confident the ex-Indonesian leader, 78, has more than 50 per cent chance of recovery.

INDONESIA’s former president Suharto’s health was improving yesterday after suffering a mild stroke on Tuesday, with doctors confident that he had a more than 50 per cent chance of recovery.

He was still suffering from slurred speech and a throbbing head, but doctors treating him at the Pertamina hospital here said that he was likely to recover within a week or two.

“The chances that he will make it are good,” said hospital head Sudjono Martoatmodjo. “There is no need for an operation because that is only needed for a heavy stroke and this is not … The possibility of recovery from a light stroke is more than 50 per cent … ”

After a day of conflicting reports over Mr Suharto’s health status, Dr Sudjono disclosed that he had suffered a mild stroke. It was non-bleeding and caused mainly by old age, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and stress. “His veins are blocked and swollen as a result of the stroke,” he said.

Dr Sudjono said he had a CT scan and was now undergoing intensive tests on his heart. Doctors had put him on a diet of liquid food.

The ex-leader, 78, who ruled Indonesia for more than three decades until his fall last May, had a stream of dignitaries filing past his bed on the sixth floor of the hospital’s VIP suite. Among them was former vice-president Try Sutrisno, making his second visit there.

Asked about Mr Suharto’s condition after meeting him for an hour, the retired general replied: “Everything was fine.” Several other dignitaries refused comment, with some appearing flustered that they were not able to meet the patient.

They included three current ministers who had also served under the former leader – Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Haryono Suyono, Transmigration and Resettlement Minister Ahmad Hendropriyono and Transport Minister Giri Suseno Hadiharjono.

Most of Mr Suharto’s children were by his bedside.

A family friend told The Straits Times that “they are now more relieved”, given hope that chances of recovery were much better as this was a mild stroke.

The Jakarta Post yesterday said that Mr Suharto was taken to the Pertamina hospital instead of the Gatot Subroto Army hospital, where most officials are treated. His wife Ibu Tien died of a heart attack in the latter hospital in 1996.

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