RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was admitted to a hospital on Friday to undergo hip replacement surgery, a procedure likely to put a temporary halt to his frequent international trips but otherwise not disrupt his activities. Televised images showed the leftist leader’s convoy entering the Hospital Sirio-Libanes complex in the capital, Brasilia. After the operation scheduled for Friday morning, Lula, 77, is expected to spend a few days in the hospital and to return to the presidential palace early next week, according to Andrea Cordeiro of the president’s press office. The government said Lula would remain president throughout instead of temporarily passing authority to vice president Geraldo Alckmin. “The impact of Lula’s surgery will probably be small and should not affect the decision-making process or negotiations in a significant way,” said Paulo Calmon, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia. “It is very likely that Lula, even in recovery, will continue to influence main decisions and will certainly demand to be informed of everything that is happening,” Calmon added. Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure, which usually takes one to two hours, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The president’s press office did not say whether Lula would receive general or local anesthesia. The recovery varies from patient to patient, but most can resume light, day-to-day activities within three to six weeks. Many patients initially use a cane, crutches or a walker until balance and strength improve to avoid falls that could jeopardize the surgery’s success, the American orthopedic organisation said. The Brazilian newspaper O Globo said on Thursday that Lula planned to use a walker, but the charismatic leader joked on Tuesday that nobody would see him with any type of walking aid. “You won’t see me with a walker, you won’t see me with crutches. You’ll always see me as beautiful as if I hadn’t even had surgery,” Lula said, adding that he has been in pain since August of last year. Lula is the oldest president in Brazil’s history. During the 2022 election campaign, he often joked that despite being over 70, “I have the energy of a 30-year-old and the lust of a 20-year-old.” Having served two previous presidential terms, in 2003-2010, Lula said during the campaign that if he won he had no intention of running for a fourth four-year term. But in July, he said that US President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign was an “encouragement” for him to run again in 2026. Lula has been busy since taking office January 1 from the man he defeated in the October 2022 runoff election, right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro. After vowing to “bring Brazil back” onto the world stage, Lula has travelled to 21 countries, including United States, China, France, India, Argentina and Angola. “He tried to include all these crucial trips before the surgery,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university in Sao Paulo. “Now he can’t continue to travel like that.” This week the president wore a mask to public events, following medical directives to lessen the risk of contracting a respiratory illness before his operation.
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