December 12, 2010 / 12:59 AM / 8 years ago

Senior diplomat Richard Holbrooke remains hospitalized

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, remained hospitalized on Sunday after surgery to repair torn aorta, a U.S. official said.

State Department special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke speaks at the Reuters Washington Summit in New York September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Holbrooke, 69, fell ill at the State Department on Friday and was admitted to nearby George Washington University Hospital for treatment for this life-threatening condition.

The State Department said on Saturday Holbrooke was in critical condition, but did not issue any additional statement on his status on Sunday.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Holbrooke remained hospitalized but provided no further information.

Earlier on Sunday, White House adviser David Axelrod told the CNN program “State of the Union” that Holbrooke is a “very tough person.”

“He had a tremendously difficult situation Friday. He had an aortic bleed, and many people would have succumbed to that. Richard is fighting through it. Anyone who knows him — and I was with him Friday morning before this happened — knows how tough and resilient he is. And we’re all praying that that quality sees him through now.”

Holbrooke brokered the 1995 accord that ended the Balkans war and is now a key player in Obama’s efforts to turn around the 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Holbrooke’s illness comes just before the White House is due to roll out an assessment of the revised strategy for the troubled region that Obama unveiled a year ago.

The aorta is the major artery that carries blood out of the heart to other parts of the body.

His condition is known as an aortic dissection and it carries the risk of serious complications such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, according to experts.

They say a torn aorta can stop blood flow to places like the brain, the heart, arms, legs, kidneys and intestines, and can lead to bleeding into the sac that surrounds the heart, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, writing by Will Dunham; editing by Philip Barbara

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