Mandela's health scares over the years

2012-12-08 23:16
 Former president Nelson Mandela (Nelson Mandela Foundation)

Former president Nelson Mandela (Nelson Mandela Foundation)

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Johannesburg - Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, aged 94, was admitted to hospital on Saturday for what the government described as routine tests.

Mandela, once a spry boxer who stayed fit during his 27 years in prison by doing calisthenics in his cell, has grown increasingly frail as a nonagenarian.

Over the years he has had a number of health scares, including in February when he spent the night in hospital after receiving a minor exploratory procedure to investigate persistent abdominal pain.

Madiba, as he is affectionately called, received a diagnostic laparoscopy, or "keyhole surgery", in which doctors made small incisions in the abdominal area to probe it with a tiny camera.

The ex-president's main medical problems have been:

- Respiratory

In January 2011, Mandela set the nation on edge when he was hospitalised for two nights with an unnamed acute respiratory infection, which the government initially described as "routine" testing.

He was released in a stable condition for home-based care and intense medical monitoring.

He has had longstanding lung problems. While serving his 27-year prison term, Mandela was diagnosed with early stage tuberculosis in 1988 after being admitted to hospital in Stellenbosch with a bad cough and weakness and having complained of dampness in his cell.

Two litres of fluid were drained from his chest and he spent six weeks recuperating in the hospital before being transferred to a private clinic near his mainland Cape Town prison where he was the facility's first black patient.

"When the report came back from hospital they indicated that fortunately we sent the specimen before there were holes in the lung," he said in 2004. "I underwent treatment and was completely cured after four months."

- Prostate

Mandela had surgery in 1985 for an enlarged prostate gland that had caused a urinary blockage.

In 2001, he received radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer and told reporters the following year that he had been given a clean bill of health against the disease.

- Eyes

The tear glands of Mandela's eyes were damaged by years of being forced to smash limestone rocks in the quarry on Robben Island, due to the alkalinity of the stone, leaving them dry and prone to irritation.

He had cataract surgery, aged 75 in 1994, a few months after being sworn into office as president.

Press photographers were asked not to use camera flash when taking pictures of Mandela.

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