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Aide says Dalai Lama's surgery ends successfully

October 13, 2008

By TIM SULLIVAN
The Associated Press
October 10, 2008

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Surgeons successfully removed gallstones from the
Dalai Lama on Friday, an operation that will not prevent the Tibetan
spiritual leader from traveling again by the end of the month, a top aide said.

Spokesman Chhime R. Chhoekyapa called the surgery "a simple, routine
procedure."

The Nobel Prize-winning Buddhist elder was hospitalized in New Delhi
on Thursday. He had arrived earlier in the week for a checkup, his
second in as many months, and aides said afterward that the
73-year-old had been cleared to resume foreign travels. However, an
aide said Friday that it was at that second checkup that doctors
suggested the removal of gallstones, which the Dalai Lama has had for
more than a decade.

"He will probably spend two days in hospital, then a few days in
Delhi while he recovers. At the end of the month he will resume his
schedule," aide Tenzin Taklha said.

In August, the 73-year-old Dalai Lama was admitted to a Mumbai
hospital and underwent tests for abdominal discomfort. His aides said
then he was in good condition but doctors advised him to cancel a
planned trip to Europe and rest, saying he was suffering from exhaustion.

The Dalai Lama normally spends several months a year traveling the
world to teach Buddhism and highlight the Tibetan struggle. He lives
in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala, where he set up his
government-in-exile after fleeing Tibet following a failed 1959
uprising against Chinese rule.

He was originally scheduled to return to Dharmsala on Thursday.

News of the surgery sparked worries in Dharmsala, where the Dalai
Lama remains the central figure -- both spiritually and politically —
for thousands of exiles. While the exile community has become
increasingly divided in recent years between followers who support
his pacifist approach and a bitter younger generation demanding
stronger action against China, he remains deeply revered.

"I have been thinking about this for a long time. He is 73 and will
not always be around," said Tenzin Ngodup, a 28-year-old exile who
fled from Tibet to India in 1997. "What would happen to us when he is
not around? I get very worried. People in Tibet have a lot of hope
and faith that since he is here, something good will happen in Tibet.
If the Dalai Lama goes, they will lose all hope."

After a March outbreak of violence in Tibet, China stepped up its
campaign to vilify the Dalai Lama, blaming him for the unrest, which
Beijing says was part of a campaign to split the Himalayan region
from the rest of China.

The Dalai Lama has denied the allegations, saying he is only seeking
greater autonomy for Tibet to protect its unique Buddhist culture.

Associated Press writer Ashwini Bhatia in Dharmsala contributed to this report.
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