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Thursday February 22, 2024

Second hospitalisation: Key highlights of Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin's health crisis

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, hospitalised on Sunday for critical bladder symptoms, underwent tests and subsequent non-surgical procedures on Monday

By Web Desk
February 13, 2024
The US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, spent days in hospital in January without the White House apparently being aware. — AFP
The US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, spent days in hospital in January without the White House apparently being aware. — AFP  

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin finds himself back in the hospital, marking his second hospitalisation this year. 

He is suffering from an emergent bladder issue, according to a statement from Walter Reed National Medical Center.

Austin, 70, was admitted on Sunday after experiencing symptoms indicative of a critical bladder problem. Following a series of tests, the decision was made to undergo non-surgical procedures on Monday, performed under general anesthesia. The nature of the specific bladder issue has not been fully disclosed, leaving many questions unanswered.

The hospital remains optimistic about Austin's recovery, saying that a successful outcome is anticipated. While the duration of his hospital stay remains uncertain, a prolonged period is not expected, and the Defense Secretary is anticipated to resume his normal duties as early as Tuesday.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks has assumed Austin's official duties during his absence, a transfer that occurred on Sunday. This includes canceling a planned trip to Brussels for a meeting of NATO defense ministers and a tentative participation in a virtual Ukraine defense meeting, depending on his health status.

The health setback follows Austin's prostate cancer diagnosis in December, a revelation made after routine surveillance blood tests. He underwent a prostatectomy on Dec. 22, a procedure involving the partial or complete removal of the prostate and nearby lymph nodes.

The recent hospitalisation raises questions about whether this is a new condition or a complication stemming from his previous prostate cancer diagnosis. However, neither the hospital nor the Pentagon has provided clarity on this matter.

Despite his health challenges, Austin has expressed no intention to resign, and President Joe Biden continues to express confidence in his leadership. The Defense Secretary's health issues were not publicly disclosed until recently, adding an element of surprise to the situation.

Austin's journey through medical challenges began with severe leg pain and abdominal discomfort on Jan. 1, leading to his first hospitalisation. A subsequent diagnosis revealed a bladder infection and abdominal problems, necessitating a transfer to the critical-care unit for closer monitoring.