Maradona leaves hospital following surgery

OLIVOS, ARGENTINA (AFP) – Argentine football legend Diego Maradona left hospital on Wednesday followed by a convoy of supporters, eight days after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.

Maradona did not speak to the crowd of journalists and chanting fans gathered outside in masks as he left the Olivos clinic in Buenos Aires by ambulance shortly after his doctor Leopoldo Luque told reporters he could go home. Private security personnel held up dividers to screen the ambulance before it left.

A convoy of Maradona’s supporters followed the ambulance after dozens had waited outside the clinic for days, holding photos of him and chanting their encourfagement.

One banner read “Eternally Thanks”. Luque had earlier published on Instagram a photo of himself hugging the 60-year-old, who wore a bandage on his head. Maradona is expected to continue his rehabilitation in Tigre, 30 kilometres north of Buenos Aires, near his daughter Giannina’s home.

“Diego has gone through perhaps the hardest time of his life,” his lawyer Matias Morla said earlier Wednesday, adding it was a “miracle” that the clot “which could have taken his life, was detected”.

Private security personnel cover the ambulance transporting Argentine former football star and coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata Diego Maradona, as he leaves the clinic where he underwent brain surgery for a blood clot, in Olivos, Buenos Aires province. PHOTO: AFP

“What is needed now is family togetherness and being surrounded by health professionals,” said Morla. “With the doctors and his family, Diego will be as he should be: happy.”

The World Cup-winning former Argentine captain underwent surgery last Tuesday to remove a clot lodged between his brain and skull.

He had looked unwell during a brief appearance on October 30 to mark his 60th birthday at the stadium of Gimnasia y Esgrima, the Argentine Primera Division team he coaches.

He seemed to have difficulty walking and did not stay to watch his team’s game.

The following Monday, he was taken to hospital in La Plata, where the club is based, suffering from symptoms of anaemia and dehydration.

Tests revealed the blood clot, after which Maradona was transferred to a specialist clinic in the capital.

Maradona has been admitted to hospital three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues – two of which were potentially fatal – due to his drug and
alcohol addictions.

Last week, his doctor had said the football icon would require prolonged treatment in a clinic with different specialties than the current one.

Maradona’s daughters Dalma, Giannina and Jana have visited him daily at the clinic. His oldest son, Diego Jr, who lives in Italy, announced last Thursday on social media that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and therefore would not be able to travel to Buenos Aires.

Due to Maradona’s age and previous health issues, he is considered high risk in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Argentina hard.

Several times in the last eight months he has been in isolation and was forced to stay at home recently after a bodyguard showed coronavirus symptoms, although he later tested negative.

Alongside Brazil’s Pele, who turned 80 last month, Maradona is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time.