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Sen. Kerry's Doctor Discusses Surgery

Aired February 12, 2003 - 10:35   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We have Dr. Patrick Walsh, who is Senator John Kerry's doctor. He is taking some questions, I believe, in Baltimore, so we want to go ahead and listen into that.

DR. PATRICK WALSH, SEN. KERRY'S DOCTOR: That will be available in a couple of days. I'm not concerned that it will show anything other than what we can see today.

QUESTION: Doctor, can you expect the senator to undergo any radiation therapy?

WALSH: I don't, no.

QUESTION: The campaign trail is obviously very rigorous, and I'm sure he's very anxious to get back on it. Do you recommend a sort of gradual return to the rigors of the campaign, or what is your advice with him?

WALSH: I think we'll just use common sense, how he feels and what he wants to do. He can't hurt anything by returning relatively early.


QUESTION: How was he feeling before he went in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was happy, reading and glad to get going and get it done.

QUESTION: Have you talked with him since?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No he just came out of surgery. He is recuperating. And I want the kids and our friends, and all of the world just to know that he's in good spirits, he's in great hands, and thank everyone for...

QUESTION: How do you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel relieved, because I knew he would be in the best hands in the world, and I knew that it was early and contained, but we just wanted to get it done, just wanted to get it out of the way, and I'm glad for him.

QUESTION: You talked about wanting to get over. You've known about for how long? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've known when he knew, and the question then was to be able to do it when Dr. Walsh was back from being away, and he got back two days ago, so.

QUESTION: What are your concerned for future and what lies ahead? his health, the presidential campaign?

WALSH: Well, being married to my husband, I'm glad that he's got to slow down a little bit, because he's very, very active man. Maybe this is a kind of good time to think maybe you can do things a little differently, a little bit slower, but I have no concerns about him. And medically speaking I think, you know, best is right here.

QUESTION: Doctor, can you in general terms go throughout procedure and how things went today? You don't have to go into graphic details. Describe, did the prostate come out properly? Was there any bleeding with the nerves that you're attuned to taking care of? Just a little bit of detail about the procedure.

WALSH: The bottom line is, everything went well. The first thing we do is examine the lymph nodes grossly, and if there's anything suspicious, we then get frozen sections. There is nothing suspicious. The lymph nodes look fine. The next order is control the bleeding and be able to inspect where the nerves are, to see whether or not they can be preserved, and they were both preserved.

Equally important is the area of the sphincter which is responsible for urinary control and being sure that is preserved well, and it was. And then being certain that everything goes back to together well and is water tight, and it was. So it just was by the book.

QUESTION: Do you think a couple week before he'll be back on the job?

WALSH: Well, I think so, yes. Like I say, we only removed a small amount of the brain, so he'll actually be able to be on the job immediately. So he'll be able to do -- most people are able to do most things they have to almost immediately, and then it's just the traveling that -- which I think is the issue, and we'll see.

QUESTION: Doctor, you haven't seen any cancer breakthrough in the prostate so far?

WALSH: That's right. It would be unusual to see that. But what you can see is the amount of soft tissue over the prostate. And actually I examined it very carefully and it looked like it was all beautifully contained inside the specimen.

QUESTION: How soon will the pathology reports be seen?

WALSH: A couple of days.

QUESTION: What is the follow-up routine?

WALSH: The follow-up is actually simple. And that is, at three months, we measure the level of prostate specific antigen, PSA; it's a blood test. It's made by the prostate. If the cancer's been completely eliminated, the PSA test should be undetectable, and I would expect it to be.

And then in someone with favorable outlook, like the senator's, we then just measure it once a year. So the cancer follow-up is very simple.

QUESTION: What are the small issues?

WALSH: There are issues like fever, blood in the urine, you know, minor problems with his wound, things like that.

QUESTION: But nothing that you're overly concerned about?

WALSH: No, as I say, everything looks just fine. And I wouldn't anticipate any of these problems, but we look for them and follow them. If he has one, we take care of it.

QUESTION: His father actually died of prostate canner. Is there a particular concern for the senator himself, 20 years earlier...

COLLINS: We are just listening into Dr. Patrick Walsh. This is Senator John Kerry's doctor. He has just had surgery to remove his prostate. Apparently, no complications, went well. He is expected to recover quickly. Some travel restrictions, but other than that, a light-hearted mood in Baltimore, and things went well.


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