`Cardiovascular Tolstoy' who is Boris's best hope
Monday 04 November 1996
Dr Renat Akchurin once studied under Dr Michael DeBakey, and is still convinced that his teacher was the "Leo Tolstoy of cardiovascular surgery".
Dr DeBakey flew into Moscow yesterday for a meeting with Mr Yeltsin's surgeons to decide exactly when they will operate on the president's heart, which has four partially or totally blocked coronary arteries. Kremlin officials, who whisked the doctor away before he could talk to journalists, have not named a date, and may even keep it under wraps until the operation is complete.
Mr Yeltsin's heart illness has brought together two unusual medical men. Dr Akchurin, who will lead the operation, is one of a small team of surgeons that have cared for the Russian political elite since before the end of the Cold War.
As chance would have it, the president's powers, including control of the nuclear button, will be transferred to one of Dr Akchurin's former bypass patients, Russia's prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, for the duration of the operation. Last week a hale and hearty-looking Mr Chernomyrdin made a special appearance on television, first windsurfing and then playing an accordion.
Dr Akchurin's mentor, Dr DeBakey, is not expected to wield a scalpel. Apart from his unacknowledged role as an international monitor, whose presence should stifle any wild allegations of a plot if Mr Yeltsin dies, his main job is that of consultant.
No other cardiologist on the planet has more experience than Dr DeBakey. A workaholic who until recently thought nothing of an 18-hour day, he has operated on some 60,000 hearts, including those of European royals, Arab leaders and Hollywood stars.
As the Kremlin gears up for what may be one of the most nerve-wracking weeks in its history, its officials have been doing their best to appear unflurried.
But the most consistent source of reassurance has come from Dr DeBakey himself. He estimates at least a 96 per cent chance of success. No matter how good the odds, Russia and the world will wait with bated breath.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...