JAKARTA, Indonesia – The chief doctor caring for former Indonesian President Suharto said he is recovering after successful colon surgery.
Asked if the surgery had been a success, the doctor, Brig. Gen. Marjo Subiandono, told The Associated Press: "God willing, it was." The procedures lasted about four hours.
"Doctors carried out a colonoscopy this afternoon and identified the sources of the bleeding on the left side of the colon. The bleeding is continuing," he said.
Suharto, 84, was admitted to Pertamina Hospital in the capital Jakarta on Thursday evening after complaining of feeling weak. He has received a series of blood transfusions to stabilize a shortage of hemoglobin, or red blood cells that carry oxygen through the bloodstream.
Since being admitted, his blood levels improved enough for him to undergo surgery, Raharjo said.
The medical team decided there has to be an operation as soon as possible to stop the bleeding "despite the risks due to his age, several illnesses, several stokes, and damage to the heart, lungs and kidneys," he said.
Suharto, who ruled the country for 32 years until being toppled by a popular uprising in 1998, was seeing family and friends, could walk by himself, and was eating again earlier Sunday after initial difficulty swallowing.
His daughter Tutut said at the hospital that her "father has given approval for the doctors to go ahead with the operation."
It was the fourth time Suharto had been diagnosed and treated for intestinal bleeding in two years. The last time was in November, 2005. He is not believed to have undergone intestinal surgery before.
Dr. Marjo Subiandono, who heads a team of presidential doctors looking after Suharto, said Sunday he has not been stabilized yet and called the lack of oxygen in his blood worrisome and "dangerous."
Yet news of Suharto's illness has received little attention from Indonesia's media, possibly because of his regular hospital visits and ability to recovery each time.
Two years after his ouster, Suharto was indicted for allegedly embezzling $600 million, but legal proceedings were suspended due to his poor health.
He is said to have suffered permanent brain damage and some speech loss from at least two strokes, and his doctors said Friday that the function of some of his organs had decreased by 70 percent.
Two weeks ago, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh asked doctors to take a fresh look at whether Suharto was fit to stand trial. No charges have been brought in connection with widespread political killings during his presidency which left as many as a million suspected communists and left-wing opponents dead.
But Theo Sambuaga, a lawmaker with the largest political party, Golkar, called on the attorney general to scrap plans to prosecute Suharto after he visited him in hospital Sunday.
Suharto was also visited Sunday afternoon by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's cabinet secretary, Sudi Silalahi, who told reporters he had been instructed to "make sure that he has received proper health treatment."