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Doctors amazed ex-Indonesian dictator Suharto still alive despite organ failure, pneumonia
Indonesia Suharto A 6743363
A woman wipes her eyes during prayers for former Indonesia President Suharto at Suharto's house on Kalitan street in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 14, 2008. Doctors caring Suharto said Monday they were amazed the retired five-star general was still clinging to life after he came down with mild pneumonia, one of the most dangerous threats to patients suffering from multiple organ failure. - photo by Associated Press
    JAKARTA, Indonesia — Former dictator Suharto developed pneumonia in one lung, doctors reported Monday, calling it a dangerous new threat for a patient with multiple organ failure. They said they were amazed the 86-year-old was still hanging on.
    Suharto was rushed to a hospital suffering from anemia and a dangerously low heart rate Jan. 4.
    After initially responding well to a blood transfusion and dialysis, his health sharply deteriorated. Aides said privately he appeared several times to be on the verge of death.
    The retired five-star general’s lungs and kidneys were barely functioning Monday, but his heart showed signs of improvement, said Marjo Subiandono, the chief presidential doctor.
    ‘‘We are quite amazed at how strong he is ... maybe because he is a former soldier, a general,’’ Subiandono told reporters. ‘‘If I was in the same state, I don’t think I would have made it this far.’’
    Physicians temporarily stopped Suharto’s sedation medicine to see if he was conscious. He was responsive and took hold of a hand when asked if he was able, they said.
    One of Suharto’s lungs was infected with mild pneumonia, and physicians were trying to make sure it did not spread to his other lung, said Hadiarto Mangunnegoro, a pulmonologist.
    Suharto, whose 32-year regime was widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s most brutal and corrupt, was ousted a decade ago amid student protests and nationwide riots, opening the way for democracy in this predominantly Muslim nation of 235 million people.
    He withdrew from public life, venturing from his mansion on a leafy lane in Jakarta only to attend family functions or for medical emergencies.
    A series of strokes in recent years left Suharto with permanent brain damage and impaired speech — and kept him from facing trial.
    He has been accused of overseeing the killings of more than a half million leftist opponents soon after seizing power in a 1965 coup. Hundreds of thousands more were killed or imprisoned in the decades that followed — crimes for which no one has ever been punished.
    Transparency International has said Suharto and his family amassed billions of dollars in state funds, an allegation he has denied.
    On Monday, Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, visited Suharto, a longtime friend. Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew dropped a day earlier.
    ‘‘(I am) very sad, because when I last met him he could still think clearly,’’ Mahathir told MetroTV after praying at Suharto’s bedside and whispering in his ear. ‘‘It never crossed my mind that in one year’s time his condition would deteriorate so much.’’

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