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Ma's eye surgery successful: NTU Hospital

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou successfully underwent cataract surgery on Saturday evening, the National Taiwan University Hospital announced yesterday.

In a statement released around 1 a.m. yesterday, NTU Hospital said the surgery, conducted around 7 p.m. Saturday, had successfully removed the cloudy lens from the president's right eye and replaced it with an artificial lens.

Following the surgery, the president returned to his home for rest at around 10 p.m. Saturday, the statement said.

The decision to conduct surgery was made after the president underwent his annual physical at NTU Hospital on Saturday morning, it noted.

Sources told local media yesterday that Ma has been suffering from a cataract for quite some time.

During Saturday's physical checkup, doctors found that the president's eye condition had not made significant progress over the past year, the NTU statement said.

Doctors recommended that the president find time for surgery to solve the problem once and for all, it noted.

The president decided to return to the hospital later that night and undergo surgery, it added.

Sources close to the situation said the decision was made because the procedure does not require an overnight hospital stay and Ma did not have any public engagements yesterday.

Also, President Ma will be visiting Panama and El Salvador later this month. The president thus believed it was the right time to undergo the procedure, a source said.

Ma is scheduled to depart for Panama on June 29, where he will attend the inauguration of President-elect Juan Carlos Varela on July 1.

Following his Panama visit, Ma and his delegation will then visit another ally in the region, El Salvador. The delegation will return to Taiwan on July 5, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The upcoming trip will mark Ma's 10th overseas trip since becoming president in May 2008.

Ma's Knees Problem

Meanwhile, NUT Hospital said the president is in relatively good health.

  Ma weighed 75 kilograms, little changed from last year when his weight was 74.8 kg, and his height was measured at 178 centimeters, the hospital said.

  The president's waist circumference was 89 cm, and he had a body mass index (BMI) of 23.67, considered to be within a normal range, the hospital said.

  However, there are some minor problems with Ma's knees as he has suffering from arthritis, the hospital said. Doctors attributed the knee problem to the president's love of jogging.

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