MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 April 2024

US defence secretary Austin undergoes surgery for prostate cancer, info not disclosed to President Biden

On December 22, 2023, after consultation with his medical team, the 70-year-old retired four-star general was admitted to the medical centre where he underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a prostatectomy to treat and cure prostate cancer

PTI New York Published 10.01.24, 11:28 AM
Lloyd J. Austin

Lloyd J. Austin File

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery last month and this information was not disclosed to US President Joe Biden, the Pentagon has acknowledged.

A statement from Trauma Medical Director Dr John Maddox and Center for Prostate Disease Research of the Murtha Cancer Center Director Dr Gregory Chesnut at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said that Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer early last month.

ADVERTISEMENT

On December 22, 2023, after consultation with his medical team, the 70-year-old retired four-star general was admitted to the medical centre where he underwent a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a prostatectomy to treat and cure prostate cancer.

Austin was under general anaesthesia during this procedure and "recovered uneventfully from his surgery and returned home the next morning. His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent,” the statement said.

The statement added that on January 1, Austin was admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Center with complications from the December procedure, including nausea with severe abdominal, hip, and leg pain.

Initial evaluation revealed a urinary tract infection, it said adding that on January 2, the decision was made to transfer him to the ICU for close monitoring and a higher level of care.

However, this critical information was not disclosed to Biden or the White House until Tuesday morning.

A report in The New York Times said that The White House was “caught off guard” when it learned about Austin’s diagnosis and surgery, with neither Biden nor his staff being notified about it.

“The new revelations exacerbated the frustration in the West Wing, where officials were still dealing with the discovery that Austin had been secretly hospitalised last week for complications resulting from a condition that the Pentagon did not disclose even to the White House until Tuesday morning,” the Times report said.

The White House only learned Tuesday morning that Austin had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, at which point Biden was then informed.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder said during a press briefing Tuesday that Austin continues to recover well and remains in good spirits.

“He's in contact with his senior staff and has full access to required secure communications capabilities and continues to monitor DOD's day-to-day operations worldwide. At this time I do not have any information to provide in terms of when he might be released from the hospital." On the lack of transparency over Austin’s diagnosis and treatment, Ryder said the Department of Defence (DOD) “recognises the understandable concerns expressed by the public, Congress and the news media in terms of notification timelines and DOD transparency.” He underscored that Austin has “taken responsibility for the issues with transparency and the Department is taking immediate steps to improve our notification procedures.” The Secretary's Chief of Staff directed the DOD’s director of administration and management to conduct a 30-day review of the department's notification process for the assumption of functions and duties of the Secretary of Defence.

The NYT report added that Biden had not been told until Thursday that Austin had been taken by ambulance to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland three days earlier.

When the Pentagon did make it public on Friday evening, it said only that Austin was being treated for complications from “an elective medical procedure.” The defence secretary is just below the president in the chain of command for the US military. The defence secretary is one of the most important members of the US president's Cabinet.

“Austin did not even reveal the specifics of his condition in a telephone call with the president on Saturday,” White House officials said in the NYT report.

“The defence secretary’s secrecy has unwittingly provided critics with ammunition to accuse Biden of not being in full control of his administration and raised questions about how the 81-year-old president would handle a health crisis of his own,” the report added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT