Suharto's condition worsens, doctor says

Updated: 2008-01-09 07:44

The health of former Indonesian president Suharto, who was rushed to hospital in critical condition last week, deteriorated yesterday as doctors tried to avert multiple organ failure, a member of his medical team said.

A family friend said all six of Suharto's children, and almost all of his sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren were with him at the hospital, indicating the seriousness of his condition.

At the weekend, when Suharto's health deteriorated, "not all of his children gathered, but today all of them are here. It's worse," the family friend said.

Another doctor said there was little room for optimism, and by early evening, a member of Suharto's medical team said Suharto's condition had worsened.

Suharto, 86, was admitted to Pertamina Hospital, one of Jakarta's top medical centers, on Friday where a team of 40 doctors is treating him for heart, lung and kidney problems.

"Suharto is in a highly unstable condition and requires intensive monitoring," Mardjo Soebiandono, the head of the medical team treating the former five-star general, told a news conference.

"More fluid infiltrated his lungs and some blood was seen in his faeces and urine that prompted his haemoglobin to drop," he said, adding that Suharto had been given a blood transfusion.

Reporters at the hospital saw Suharto being wheeled out of the radiology unit, accompanied by his three daughters, who were crying.

Juniarti Hatta, a cardiovascular expert and a member of the medical team, later told reporters the former president's left heart chamber had swollen to a point that could lead to heart failure. "The deterioration left us with little optimism," she said, adding that Suharto could be heading for multiple organ failure.

'Smiling General'

Known as the "Smiling General", which was also the title of an authorized biography, Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for over three decades until he was ousted in 1998 in the face of a tumultuous pro-democracy movement and economic crisis.

The former strongman, who has been living largely out of the public eye in a family compound in the heart of Jakarta, has suffered from various ailments in recent years, including intestinal bleeding and strokes.

Critics say he and his family amassed billions during his rule, but the former president and members of his family have denied any wrongdoing.

Suharto was previously charged with graft but escaped prosecution when he was deemed too ill to stand trial.

He and his family are still involved in a couple of high-profile court cases.

The sudden deterioration in his health over the weekend prompted some senior politicians and one of Suharto's daughters to call for legal proceedings against him to be dropped.

But the attorney-general said on Monday that his office would press ahead with a civil case against Suharto.

The ailing former president has received a steady stream of dignitaries since he was admitted to hospital, but doctors said yesterday that they would not allow any more visitors because of his weak state.

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