At 93, Studs Terkel keeps on going after tricky heart operation

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Within days of a very risky--and perhaps unprecedented--heart operation, the Chicago icon is once again ready to take on the world.

Bowed a bit but not at all broken, and almost giddy at the prospect of returning to work, Studs Terkel walked gingerly out of Rush University Medical Center Wednesday afternoon after adding another item to his lengthy list of accomplishments.

The 93-year-old Terkel--lawyer, actor, radio host, best-selling author, activist, Pulitzer Prize winner and Chicago icon--is now also a medical miracle.

On Aug. 9, Terkel underwent a risky open-heart procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve and redo one of five coronary bypasses he underwent nine years ago.

"To my knowledge, Studs is the oldest patient to undergo this complex redo," said Dr. Marshall Goldin, the cardiovascular surgeon at Rush who operated on Terkel and disclosed the medical details. "His progress is spectacular. He is recovering physically and mentally as well as someone half his age."

The surgery lasted six hours. When Terkel awoke, Goldin told him, "It's over. And you've won."

It was no sure bet.

"Recognize that this operation is a risky operation for even a 60-year-old, let alone a 93-year-old," said Dr. Constantine Mavroudis, surgeon-in-chief at Children's Memorial Hospital and its head of congenital heart surgery. "The risks of the operation include death, stroke, myocardial infarction, and resultant heart failure. If complications are avoided, then Studs should do just fine, given time for rehabilitation."

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