Spanish king to leave hospital next week: surgeon

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Spain's 74-year-old King Juan Carlos should be able to leave hospital in three to four days after a successful hip replacement operation, his surgeon said Saturday.

"His condition developed very well overnight and he was able to rest without the need for painkillers," Angel Villamor, the head surgeon for Friday's operation to replace the king's left hip, told a press conference.

"Normally the patient returns home after three to four days" following such surgery and can climb stairs and move around with crutches, Villamor said.

The 90-minute operation "was performed without complications" and the king received a state-of-the-art prosthetic hip, the doctor added, saying the king should fully recover in about a month.

The surgery was needed because the king had been suffering from arthritis, the palace said.

The operation was the king's sixth in two years, including two in April on his other hip after he fell during a controversial elephant-hunting safari in Botswana and broke the bone in three places.

Many Spaniards were angered by the extravagance of the holiday at a time when the country is hit hard by recession. The fact that he was hunting big game despite being honorary president of the Spanish branch of the wildlife charity WWF also drew criticism.

The king, who remains widely respected for his role in steering the country to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, made an unprecedented apology on April 18 for the luxury hunting trip.

"I am sorry. I made a mistake and it won't happen again," he said as television cameras recorded his exit from hospital on crutches.

© 2012 AFP

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