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TB Traveler Has Lung Surgery

Andrew Speaker, the tuberculosis patient who caused an international public health scare in May, underwent successful surgery Tuesday to remove a diseased portion of his right lung, hospital officials said in a statement.

The surgery was performed at the University of Colorado Hospital in suburban Aurora by Dr. John D. Mitchell, chief of general thoracic surgery at the hospital, and took around two hours.

"Doctors say it went well and everything was routine," the statement said.

Speaker, a 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer, was being treated at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, which specializes in TB. National Jewish and CU have a long-standing program to jointly treat patients with tuberculosis and other diseases.

Speaker became the focus of a federal investigation and prompted an international uproar when he went ahead with a wedding trip in Europe after health officials said they had advised him not to fly. He also became the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963 before being taken to National Jewish.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in May that tests had indicated Speaker had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, which is extremely difficult to treat. This month, Speaker's doctors said subsequent testing had found only the less dangerous multidrug-resistant TB.

Speaker told CNN the operation would remove the upper lobe of his right lung with the expectation that it would rid him of the disease.

Doctors at National Jewish had described Speaker as "an excellent candidate" for surgery, and Speaker said it would give him peace of mind. Hospital spokesman William Allstetter said Speaker was expected to remain at the CU Hospital for three to six days, then be transferred back.

"If you're developing TB, even after your treatment, it can come back," Speaker told CNN. "With the amount of treatment I'm going to be on, the doctor said, 'If you go ahead and have the surgery, you don't have to worry 10 years from now or 20 years from now or 30 years now if it's ever going to come back."'

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