Argentine football great Diego Maradona will undergo brain surgery for a blood clot in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, his personal doctor said.
“I will operate on him. It’s a routine operation, he’s lucid,” said Leopoldo Luque.
“He understands, he’s totally in agreement, he’s very calm.”
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World Cup winner Maradona, 60, was taken to hospital in La Plata on Monday for a series of tests after feeling unwell.
A scan revealed the blood clot, which Argentine media are speculating was the result of a blow to the head.
Luque said the clots were “imperceptible” and that those suffering from one rarely remembered receiving a blow to the head.
“The operation consists of a small incision to drain the blood. In 24 or 48 hours the patient can leave the hospital,” neurosurgeon Raul Matera told TyC Sports channel.
Earlier in the day, Luque claimed Maradona was feeling “much better and eager to leave” hospital but insisted that the Gimnasia Y Esgrima coach was suffering from anaemia — a lack of iron in his system — and dehydration.
Luque said it has left him feeling “very weak, very tired.” After further tests, he was diagnosed with the blood clot.
Maradona was transferred from the hospital in La Plata, 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of Buenos Aires, to a specialist clinic in the capital at 6:00pm (2100 GMT) accompanied by one of his daughters, Giannina.
Dozens of Gimnasia fans outside the hospital also chanted his name as he left.
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Luque had earlier suggested Maradona’s lifestyle had contributed to his condition.
“He’s an elderly patient with many pressures in his life. It’s a time when we must help him. It’s very difficult to be Maradona,” Luque said of the star, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday.
He said it was a condition that also affected current Vice-President Cristina Kirchner when she was president.
The doctor ruled out any link to the coronavirus pandemic, which is ravaging the South American country, much of it still under confinement.
Maradona, who has a history of drug and alcohol abuse and poor health, is considered at high risk of coronavirus complications should he be infected.
Last week, he began self-isolation for the second time after a bodyguard displayed coronavirus symptoms, though he later tested negative.
He joined his players briefly at the club’s training ground on his birthday, but had obvious difficulty walking and had to be helped away by his assistants after staying only 30 minutes.
“It breaks my heart to see him like this,” Giannina tweeted the next day. He has suffered two heart attacks in the past and contracted hepatitis.
‘He needs support’
Maradona has difficulty retaining iron due to a gastric bypass surgery he underwent in 2005 to lose 50 kilograms (110 pounds), leaving him prone to anaemia, Luque said.
Though he has recovered from a well-documented addiction to hard drugs, Maradona takes medication in the form of tranquillisers and anxiolytics.
“With a patient on medication, there are times when hospitalisation serves to adjust that medication. That’s good,” said Luque.
Gimnasia fans flocked to the La Plata clinic to leave messages of support for the ailing icon.
“What he needs most is the support of the people,” Luque said.
Alongside Brazil’s Pele, who turned 80 last month, Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.