Former US President Bill Clinton underwent surgery for the second time in six months today as doctors removed fluid and scar tissue that developed following his quadruple heart bypass.
A source close to the Clintons confirmed that the low-risk surgery was underway at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Centre.
Clinton, 58, arrived at the Manhattan hospital with his wife, Hillary, before dawn to prepare for the operation.
The fluid and scar tissue developed in his left lung after his bypass surgery at the same facility six months ago.
Earlier in the week, Mr Clinton was “very confident about the outcome” of the procedure.
The Secret Service, police and hospital security staff conducted a sweep of the hospital walkways and corridors as Clinton was whisked inside through a side entrance.
The operation is done through a small incision or with a video-assisted thoracoscope inserted between the ribs.
On Wednesday, Clinton was in Florida at a charity golf tournament to benefit tsunami victims. He appeared relaxed, joking about his game and saying he wasn’t worried.
“I’ve had an unusual life. If something happens – if I get struck by lightning on the golf course today – I’d wind up ahead of where 99.99% of the people who ever lived did,” he said.
“I’m just grateful for every day when the sun comes up. But it is not a dangerous procedure, unless something totally unpredictable happens.”
The scar tissue, which developed because of fluid buildup and inflammation, has caused compression and collapse of the lower lobe of Clinton’s left lung, his office said.
The condition “has caused the president some discomfort in recent weeks, but he has otherwise been in very good condition, recently passed a stress test and is walking up to four miles a day,” the statement said.
The Clintons asked that in lieu of flowers or gifts, people should make a donation to the American Heart Association. The group set up a special location for making a donation on its web site.