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French Rower Taken to Hospital

April 4, 2000

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ Beset by delirium and possible gangrene, a French oarsman waited today for rescuers to reach the container ship that pulled him from the middle of the Pacific Ocean and take him to a hospital for emergency treatment.

Jo Le Guen, who set off Feb. 3 from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, on a voyage to Cape Horn, Chile, gave up on Monday, 61 days and one third of the way into his 5,580 mile voyage.

The 52-year-old was taken on board the container ship Palliser Bay by doctors sent to deliver medical supplies.

``He is in a pretty serious condition and he is still days away from getting to a hospital,″ said Clare Pinder, part of Le Guen’s Wellington-based support team.

Le Guen’s support crew worked with Chilean search and rescue today to find a way to get him airlifted to a hospital in Chile, but the ship was still days away from being within range of a helicopter.

The doctors say Le Guen is suffering septicemia and had three black toes _ an apparent sign of gangrene _ caused by friction from the foot straps he used during the row. He was also delirious and too tired to speak when he was plucked from his boat.

Despite treatment with antibiotics and morphine by two nurses on the Palliser Bay, there were still serious concerns for the solo rower’s health, Pinder said.

Palliser Bay third mate Steve Young said Tuesday that Le Guen’s condition was stabilizing.

``We’re obviously giving him shots of morphine and trying to quiet him down. But his feet are looking quite bad,″ he said in a National Radio interview. ``We’ve got antibiotics going in every four hours as well.″

Le Guen’s mission was aimed at highlighting the plight of the world’s oceans. His boat boasted electric equipment powered by batteries charged by solar panels and two windmills.

As well as high-tech navigation and communications equipment, Le Guen carried three sets of 9-foot oars, dried food, fresh water and two water purifiers capable of extracting salt from sea water.

An experienced ocean oarsman, the father of five has already rowed solo across the Atlantic.


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