[Weekender] Korea struggling with aging

Samsung chief recovering from heart operation

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Published : 2014-05-12 21:23
Updated : 2014-05-12 22:00

Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee was taken off life support Monday, as the business mogul recovered from heart surgery.

Samsung Medical Center said that Lee had begun breathing normally without life support.

“Lee was taken off of ECMO at 8:30 a.m. as his heart function has been restored. He has been in stable condition so far since the removal,” the hospital said in a statement.

ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, provides oxygen to patients whose heart or lungs have failed to work.
People watch TV news about Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee’s hospitalization on Monday. (Yonhap)

Lee was reportedly put on ECMO while he was moved to the hospital after he received CPR at a medical center near his house late Saturday night.

Lee, who on Sunday underwent therapeutic hypothermia, in which a patient’s body temperature is artificially brought down to reduce the risk of tissue injury due to lack of blood flow, is expected to fully recover by Tuesday morning, according to a Samsung Group spokesperson

“It usually takes about 48 hours for a patient to fully recover after the treatment ― the patient’s body temperature drops for the first 24 hours and recovers during the next 24 hours. As Lee’s therapeutic hypothermia began on Sunday morning, we should wait until Tuesday morning,” said Lee June, head of Samsung Group’s corporate strategic planning team.

“There will be no problem (in business operations) as the chairman has not been directly engaged in management. It will be business as usual.”

Hong Ra-hee, director of Leeum Samsung Museum and wife of Lee Kun-hee, is now staying with her husband at the hospital.

Lee Jay-yong, the only son of Lee and Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman, returned to work Monday after visiting his father at the hospital.

“The vice chairman had a meeting with executives of Samsung Group this morning as usual and had lunch with them,” the spokesperson said.

Samsung shares were unaffected by news of the chairman’s health problems.

Samsung Electronics shares rose 3.97 percent to 1,388,000 won Monday.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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