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After the surgery that was done today on DMK minister Senthil Balaji at Kaveri Hospital, he would require three months of good rest followed by two months of recouping with the help of a physiotherapist, say cardiologists. This puts a question mark over the enforcement directorate’s attempts to continue its interrogation of Balaji in connection with the alleged money trail that was used to launder the bribes obtained in the transport department recruitment scam.

Senthil Balaji had been charged with taking bribes in exchange of jobs in the transport department he was handling as an AIADMK minister in 2014-15. The enforcement directorate, acting under the Union government, got into the investigation to probe the money trail of the alleged bribe taken. ED, I-T searches that started on June 13 evening continued for some 17 hours into the next day at the end of which the ED sought to arrest him. Senthil Balaji complained of chest pain at that time and was taken to the government-owned Omandur hospital. An angiogram done there apparently revealed that he had three blocks and doctors advised immediate surgery to remove the blocks to the heart.

As he was treated at Omandur hospital, the ED approached the court. High Court Judge Alli visited the hospital as part of hearing of the case and remanded Senthil Balaji to judicial custody until June 28. Meanwhile, Senthil Balaji’s wife Mekala moved a habeas corpus petition in the high court for him. Senthil Balaji moved to release him on bail. The ED asked for police custody for 15 days of Senthil Balaji when it would continue interrogating him, arguing that as minister he has the power to harm their investigation if he was at large.

The hearing on the habeas corpus was conducted by Justice Nisha Banu and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthy. Hearing both sides, they accepted the request to transfer Balaji to Kaveri Hospital at Alwarpet where he has been admitted and treated. On June 21, his surgery was conducted. It took some four hours starting just after 5am and was conducted by a team of doctors headed by Dr Raghuraman. Following the surgery, Balaji would be in ICU for three days followed by doctor supervision in the ward for another seven days, the hospital has said.

As he was treated at Omandur hospital, the ED approached the court. High Court Judge Alli visited the hospital as part of hearing of the case and remanded Senthil Balaji to judicial custody until June 28

Doctors say that the arteries that carry blood from the heart can undergo fat deposition as a result of which the flow through the arteries is reduced or completely blocked. Senthil Balaji has three blocks. Breathlessness and severe chest pain can result as a result of this. Angioplasty or stents can help to restore blood flow. But if the block is severe a bypass surgery would have to be done in which the block is bypassed which is what happened to Senthil Balaji.

In such surgeries, a deep cut is made on the chest, the rib cage is opened and the heart stopped for some time while a heart-lung machine is made operational. The name of the procedure is Coronary Artery Bypass Graft during which healthy veins from around the leg are used to create a bypass around the block near the heart.

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A cardiologist at a government hospital who didn’t wish to be identified said typically four days of ICU is warranted after the surgery followed by observation in the ward for a week. For three months after surgery the patient has to be extremely careful. Physical Therapy will be administered for the patient and he or she would be taught low impact exercises that would improve breathing and circulation. Another two months of proper monitoring would be required to observe the impact of the physical therapy. Patients are strongly advised to avoid stress and worries to help recoup.

This brings a question over the ED’s attempt to continue its vigorous interrogation of Senthil Balaji. Courts will have to decide on how much the ED can be allowed to proceed with the case. The ED had approached the Supreme Court against the ruling of the high court granting judicial custody and allowing Kaveri Hospital to treat Senthil Balaji. The SC asked how ED could possibly interrogate Senthil Balaji while he was in judicial custody and observed that the high court had given its ruling in light of Senthil Balaji’s medical condition. The court said the high court should proceed with its hearing of the petitions and make rulings but they can later be reviewed in Supreme Court.

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