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Ky. Governor Has Blood Clot Removed

March 10, 2006

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ Gov. Ernie Fletcher could spend three more days in the hospital after undergoing a procedure to remove a blood clot, a doctor said.

Fletcher’s condition will be updated later Friday morning, the governor’s spokeswoman, Jodi Whitaker, said.

Most of the clot was removed Thursday and what remains will be dissolved with medications, said Dr. Dale Absher, an interventional radiologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington.

Absher said the clot had not moved to the governor’s lungs and the risk of that happening was ``extremely low.″

It was the second time in a month that the 53-year-old Fletcher was hospitalized.

Spokesman Brett Hall said the governor awoke Thursday with his left arm swollen, discolored and painful _ symptoms that Fletcher, a physician, recognized as signs of a blood clot between his upper arm and jugular vein.

A blood clot can lead to a stroke or heart attack, or can travel to the lungs with deadly consequences.

Fletcher transferred power to Lt. Gov. Steve Pence before undergoing the procedure, which involved a suction-powered catheter. Doctors said he was awake and alert afterward.

Pence said he would meet with Fletcher at the hospital Friday and likely transfer powers back to the governor then.

Dr. Charles Kennedy, an infectious disease specialist, said about 65 to 70 percent of the clot was removed. Doctors hoped to take out the remainder with three drugs, one that eliminates clots and two blood thinners.

Fletcher was released from the hospital only last week after an 18-day stay during which he had his gallbladder taken out and suffered a blood infection. He had gone in to have a gallstone removed.

The governor left the hospital with a catheter in his left arm so that antibiotics could be administered intravenously. Hall said Fletcher believes the blood clot may have originated with the catheter.

The governor’s wife, Glenna, said her husband previously believed he was recovering and reported feeling better Wednesday evening.

``I told him to not say he was feeling great ever again,″ she said.

___

Associated Press Writer Jeffrey McMurray in Lexington, Ky., contributed to this report.

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