The Cable

Holbrooke undergoes second surgical procedure, condition still critical

After enduring 21 hours of surgery Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, underwent a second surgical procedure Sunday at the George Washington University Hospital. "Ambassador Richard Holbrooke remains in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital, where he is surrounded by his family, ...

After enduring 21 hours of surgery Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, underwent a second surgical procedure Sunday at the George Washington University Hospital.

"Ambassador Richard Holbrooke remains in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital, where he is surrounded by his family, friends, colleagues and staff," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Sunday in a statement. "Today, Ambassador Holbrooke underwent an additional procedure to improve circulation following yesterday’s surgery."

Crowley said that Holbrooke’s wife, author Kati Marton, received calls Sunday from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke with Karzai Sunday.

Clinton has visited Holbrooke in the hospital twice, once on Friday night and once on Saturday, during which the ailing diplomat was also surrounded by family. Other U.S. officials who have visited the hospital, besides Clinton, include Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.

"His family is grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers coming in from his many friends, colleagues and leaders around the world," Crowley said.

White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod confirmed to CNN’s Candy Crowley Sunday that Holbrooke’s condition was still critical but said that "he’s also very tough person."

"He had a tremendously difficult situation Friday," said Axelrod. "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."

The second procedure was to improve circulation in his legs and went "reasonably well," Politico reported.

Holbrooke reportedly collapsed in Clinton’s 7th floor office Friday afternoon, then picked himself up and walked out of the State Department and went to the hospital. ABC News reported that Holbrooke "gasped and was clearly undergoing a medical situation when he collapsed."

On Saturday, President Obama called Marton to tell her that he and the first lady were praying for Holbrooke.

"Richard Holbrooke is a towering figure in American foreign policy, a critical member of my Afghanistan and Pakistan team, and a tireless public servant who has won the admiration of the American people and people around the world," Obama said, "and we continue to pray for his recovery, and support his family in this difficult time."

Holbrooke is 69 years old.

 Twitter: @joshrogin

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