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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Denies Delay of Surgery

The Kremlin strongly denied reports Tuesday that President Boris Yeltsin is unlikely to undergo heart surgery "in the foreseeable future" because he is anemic and doctors have been unable to raise his hemoglobin count.

"Preparations for the operation are going according to plan," said presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, after the reports aired on radio station Echo Moskvy. "No one has said anything about changing the schedule."

The president's surgeon and the chief Kremlin doctor also both said Yeltsin's treatment is on schedule and the multiple bypass operation should go ahead in the next few weeks.

Yeltsin, 65, is staying at a rest home outside Moscow while preparing for surgery. He initially said the operation would take place in late September, but doctors decided to wait.

They said Yeltsin's heart needed time to heal after a mild heart attack during the summer and the president also had to recover from other problems, including internal bleeding that left him anemic.

The radio station, citing unnamed sources and doctors from the clinic where the surgery would be performed, said the president's hemoglobin count has remained low despite dosages of various drugs and B-12 vitamins.

Recent tests showed a reading of 42, against the normal range of 78 to 96, the radio said.

Yastrzhembsky denied that Yeltsin's blood was not responding to treatment. "In recent weeks, there has been a significant improvement in the quality and quantitative indicators of his blood," Yastrzhembsky said.

But the radio report said most cardiology and hematology specialists aware of the test results agree that "such a condition of the blood makes a heart operation for the Russian president practically impossible in the foreseeable future."

Dr. Renat Akchurin, who would lead the surgery team, said he expects to keep to the timetable outlined last month -- with the operation to take place in late November or early December.

"Nobody knows the exact date of the operation, but the time limits, mentioned at consultations in Moscow, are most likely to be followed," Akchurin, who is visiting the United States, told Itar-Tass. Akchurin said he was in Houston, Texas to visit leading American heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey, who visited Moscow last month to help doctors decide if they should operate on Yeltsin.

He said DeBakey would not be present during the operation.

?Yeltsin's wife, Naina, has left the hospital after a kidney operation in late August and is now helping the effort to prepare her husband for surgery, Yastrzhembsky said Tuesday.

"She is at Barvikha, where Boris Nikolayevich is," he said.

Akchurin said there was nothing exceptional about his visit.

"This is just a routine, planned trip at the invitation of the renowned American heart surgeon Michael DeBakey. I am a learner from him," Akchurin was quoted as saying.

Yeltsin's liver also is not functioning satisfactorily, which affects the condition of his blood, the radio said.

Hemoglobin, the primary constituent of red blood cells, carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues, and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.