Dewar faces three months off after heart valve operation

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Indy Politics

Donald Dewar, Scotland's First Minister, is to have a major operation after tests revealed a faulty heart valve.

The operation, at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary will replace Mr Dewar's leaking aortic valve, his surgeon, consultant cardiologist Kerry-Jane Hogg, said yesterday.

The 62-year-old MP for Glasgow Anniesland's treatment will be carried out on the NHS in the next few weeks. He will need to spend about 10 days in hospital recovering, before convalescing at home for between eight and 12 weeks. During that time he is expected to read ministerial papers.

After leaving the hospital, Mr Dewar promised to be back at work today, when MSPs will be taking part in a crucial debate on Section 28, the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools. He said: "I'm feeling extremely well and am in good form, I'll be going back to work tomorrow."

The Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, will take charge during Mr Dewar's absence.

The First Minister's official spokesman, David Whitton said Mr Dewar will chair Question Time as usual at the Edinburgh parliament today. Mr Whitton continued: "He knew there was a problem, that had to be addressed but not how bad it was until he had the tests."

Tony Blair said: "Donald Dewar is a very close friend. He is doing an excellent job as First Minister, working hard for the people of Scotland. Along with everyone else, I wish him a full and fast recovery."