Cyprus Mail

Minister fighting for life

By Constantinos Psillides

Defence Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos, was still in “extremely critical” condition on Friday night after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm in the morning, doctors said.

Mitsopoulos, 49, underwent emergency surgery after he was admitted before 11am with extensive cerebral haemorrhage. The defence minister is being treated in the intensive care unit of the Nicosia General Hospital, under the supervision of both the hospital doctors and three neurosurgeons that arrived later in the day from neighbouring Israel and Greece.

In statements to the press earlier, Nicosia General Hospital neurosurgeon Akis Lambrou said that Mitsopoulos had suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. He underwent emergency operation by a team of neurosurgeons at the General Hospital and an intracerebral catheter was placed to regulate the intracranial pressure.

President Nicos Anastasiades, who was in Brussels for the EU summit, cut short his visit and rushed back to the island when he heard the news. Reports said that the President couldn’t find a commercial flight so had to be flown back to Cyprus in a private jet.

The President arrived at the hospital at around 8.40pm and was briefed by the medical staff on Mitsopoulos’ condition. When exiting the hospital, the President made a very short statement to the media. “I feel like everyone feels when they lose or feel they lose one of their own. I don’t want to say anything else. I pray to God that he gets better,” he said, visibly distraught.

Mitsopoulos was found unconscious in his office by his secretary, at around 10.30am. He previously had a meeting with the Greek ambassador Vassilis Papaioannou and was scheduled to meet with US ambassador John Koening.

When the minister ran late for the second meeting his secretary tried to call him on his office and on the mobile. When Mitsopoulos didn’t pick up, she knocked on the door and decided to enter when she got no response. Upon finding the minister unconscious, the secretary called an ambulance and notified a clinic next to the defence ministry. Doctors from the clinic rushed t the office and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived and took the minister to Nicosia General for emergency surgery.

At around 1pm doctors made a statement to the press, confirming that Mitsopoulos was hospitalised after suffering a heart attack, caused by the ruptured aneurysm.

In a meeting following the statement the Nicosia General Hospital doctors decided to get the help of specialists, notifying two neurosurgeons in Israel and one from Greece.

The doctors made a second statement in the afternoon, saying the minister was still in critical condition. The specialists arrived late in the afternoon to examine Mitsopoulos and confer with their Cypriot colleagues.

In a third statement at around 8.30pm., the doctors said that after discussing with the three specialists they decided to continue with the treatment. “The patient’s condition is still extremely critical”, they said.

Doctors are expected to give an update on the minister’s condition Saturday morning according to the Cyprus News Agency.

MPs, cabinet ministers and other state officials visited the hospital once news of Mistsopoulos health spread, cancelling their schedules for the day. Events organised by the parties were also cancelled.

Social media were overwhelmed by messages of support for the minister and words of encouragement for his family. Mitsopoulos is an avid Twitter user and preferred to handle his own account rather than leave it for an assistant. The minister tweeted about almost all events and meetings he took part of, along with tweets regarding the situation in Cyprus in general. The last tweet he send was on March 20, following a meeting with army officials at the National Guard Headquarters (GEEF). “Lengthy meeting and a briefing at the heart of our military, GEEF. Trust our members in uniform,” the tweet said.

Mitsopoulos was appointed defence minister only a week to the day, following last week’s cabinet reshuffle, taking over from previous minister Fotis Fotiou. Mitsopoulos was initially appointed communications and works minister, when Anastasiades came to power. A member of ruling DISY, he once served as party spokesman. He is the father of two children.

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