Donald Dewar critically ill after fall on pavement

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Scotland's First Minister, Donald Dewar, was critically ill on a life-support machine in hospital last night after a fall outside his official residence in Edinburgh.

Scotland's First Minister, Donald Dewar, was critically ill on a life-support machine in hospital last night after a fall outside his official residence in Edinburgh.

Mr Dewar, who is recovering from a major heart operation, had a brain scan at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and was transferred to Western General Hospital, which has a neurological unit. Mr Dewar, who is believed to have suffered a brain haemorrhage, was described by a spokesman as "critically ill".

Earlier in the day Mr Dewar slipped on the pavement while going to his official car outside Bute House after a Scottish Executive cabinet meeting. He later complained of feeling unwell and was seen by Colin Currie, a special adviser to Scottish health minister Susan Deacon, who called for an ambulance after conferring with casualty consultant Colin Robertson.

Mr Dewar's spokesman, David Whitton, said: "What seems to have happened is that in the fall, although he did not bump his head, he may have damaged a blood vessel in his head, as a result of which he is suffering bleeding to the head."

There were also fears that Mr Dewar may be suffering from complications after a three-and-half hour operation to fix a defective heart at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in May.

Mr Dewar, 63, was admitted to that hospital to replace a leaking aortic valve after a routine check-up found heart "irregularities". The valve was replaced by a mechanical metal substitute, and a man-made woven material was substituted for a 5cm length of Mr Dewar's aorta.

Since the operation Mr Dewar's blood has had to be thinned using drugs to reduce the risk of clots forming. Consultants have told him his recovery could take several months.

Jim Wallace, the deputy first minister, who assumed Mr Dewar's duties while he was recovering from surgery, was expected to take over again.

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