The Governor goes home, but doctors put him on diet

THE Governor, Mr Chris Patten, will be put on a diet when he is released from hospital this morning to recuperate after Wednesday's heart surgery.

Doctors at the Queen Mary Hospital, where Mr Patten underwent a 21/2-hour operation to widen two of his arteries, said yesterday they were satisfied with his progress and as a result he would be discharged two days earlier than expected.

Mr Patten spent most of yesterday in bed listening to music.

He had used some pain killers, but had generally been comfortable during his two-day hospital stay. His recuperation period is likely to last for about 10 days.

Mr Patten's love of fine food and wine has been cited by doctors as one of the causes of the congested arteries that first caused his heart problem.

But hospital chief executive, Dr Vivian Wong Chi-woon, said the Governor had nonetheless appeared to enjoy the more humble fayre on offer at the Queen Mary.

On Wednesday evening, a few hours after his operation, he had tucked into an omelette and a bowl of soup - the same food on offer to other patients. And it is a regime to which it appears Mr Patten will have to become accustomed.

The doctor who treated him during his illness, Dr Michael Tsang Tse-shu, said yesterday the Governor was overweight and that he would be working out a menu for Mr Patten after consultations with a dietician.

While declining to say how much he considered Mr Patten to be overweight, Dr Tsang was otherwise satisfied with his condition. He had slept well on the first day and his blood pressure was stable.

Professor Chan Tai-kwong said it was unlikely Mr Patten would need a second round of treatment to clear his coronary arteries.

A team of doctors had been standing by at Queen Mary because there was a 30 per cent chance of a relapse with the first 24 hours after treatment being crucial to its success.

But doctors have yet to decide if the Governor will have to return to the hospital for regular check-ups.

It is still to be decided when Mr Patten will return to work.

Government House spokesman, Mr Mike Hanson, confirmed the Governor had spent a comfortable night.

He was expected to pay $166 per day during his stay at the Queen Mary, but will not have to pay for the operation, estimated to have cost about $40,000. This is covered by his terms of service as a civil servant.

Baskets of flowers from legislators and social and political groups packed the lobby of Block J throughout the afternoon.

Well-wishers included legislator Mr Howard Young of the United Democrats, business magnate Mr Stanley Ho, Hongkong Futures Exchange chairman Mr Leung Ka-chai and the charity organisation the Po Leung Kuk.

Hospital Authority director of operations, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, also visited Mr Patten at about 2.30 pm before a meeting with hospital management.

He said doctors were satisfied with the Governor's recovery and described his condition as ''very good''.

About 20 baskets of flowers were taken to Government House, while the Governor's wife, Mrs Lavender Patten, had collected his get well cards.

Mr Hanson said the rest of the flowers had been sent to the other wards.