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Russia: Famed U.S. Doctor Says Yeltsin's Chances of Survival Excellent

Washington, 5 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- One of the world's top authorities on heart surgery, American Dr. Michael Debakey, says Russian President Boris Yeltsin has a very good chance of successfully undergoing a coronary operation.

In a telephone interview with RFE/RL from his Houston, Texas, office today, Debakey said he estimates the success rate at "better than 96 percent." Debakey cautioned, however, that he did not examine Yeltsin and was basing his estimate on statistical information taking into consideration Yeltsin's age and other factors.

Yeltsin may either need a bypass surgery or a heart valve operation, said Debakey. The Kremlin would only say that the Russian leader agreed to undergo a heart operation later this month.

Debakey, who performs heart surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said Moscow's Cardiological Central clinic would be the best equipped place in Russia to perform a heart operation. The Moscow facility is virtually as good as the best U.S. hospital or clinic specializing in cardiology, he said. Debakey says he knows the top doctors at the Moscow clinic.

"I know they can do it well there. They are good," he said.

Asked whether he would be willing to perform a heart operation on Yeltsin in Texas, Debakey told our Washington correspondent: "If asked, yes. We are available. We are ready and prepared."

Debakey is scheduled to go to Moscow later this month on an unrelated trip.