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Ex-president Chen to spend month at hospital after surgery
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-14 04:09 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former President Chen Shui-bian was to spend at least one month at the Taichung Veterans General Hospital after surgery Saturday to cure his sleep apnea.

Only relatives would be allowed to visit him during that period, doctors said.

Chen has been spending a 20-year prison sentence on charges of corruption at the Taichung Prison’s Pei Teh Hospital because of his precarious health condition.

Sleep apnea includes sudden breathing stoppages during sleep, but Chen also suffers from a variety of other ailments including severe depression, cerebral atrophy and incontinence.

Taipei Veterans General Hospital doctor Chen Chi-te and his Taichung colleague Liu Shih-an led the team which performed the surgery.

The ex-president was moved inside the Taichung hospital under close protection from at least five police officers, cable stations reported.

According to statements by doctors before surgery, Chen’s breathing sometimes stopped up to 37 times an hour, making it difficult for him to sleep for more than one or two hours each night. If left untreated, the disease might damage his basic brain and heart functions.

The former president’s health problems were so serious that he should receive close medical supervision at a more hospitable location, preferably at home, his medical team said. When his deteriorating medical condition became apparent, an online campaign started to ask the government to give Chen medical parole, but the Ministry of Justice has said he does not fulfill the conditions for such treatment.

In June, Chen attempted to hang himself with a towel but was stopped by prison staff.

Chen ruled Taiwan from 2000 to 2008 as the first-ever president from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which was founded in 1986 during the Martial Law era. He first won amid divisions in the ruling Kuomintang camp in 2000, but he was re-elected by a razor-thin absolute majority four years later. As he left office, he faced numerous allegations of corruption which he rejected as a campaign of political persecution by his successor, President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT.

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