Jaitley undergoes kidney transplant: Piyush Goyal to take additional charge

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here on Monday morning. With him expected to be out of action for as much eight weeks, Rail Minister Piyush Goyal will be given additional charge of the finance ministry.

The surgery was successful, stated AIIMS, with both recipient and donor “recovering well”. Jaitley, 65, was admitted to the hospital on Saturday.

Jaitley had been unwell since early April, with kidney-related problems and chest infection. He was admitted to AIIMS last month and released later; he has been undergoing regular dialysis since.

“The doctors will keep him under observation before deciding the further course of action,” said a member of Jaitley’s staff. Doctors from AIIMS say the minister could take at least six to eight weeks for full recovery.

According to a report in Press Trust of India, nephrologist Sandeep Guleria from Apollo Hospital, also brother of AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, who is a family friend of Jaitley, was part of the team performing the transplant.

Senior political figures, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, and former finance minister P Chidambaram wished Jaitley a speedy recovery on Twitter. “I compliment him for getting it done at AIIMS and showing confidence in our own public hospital, like Sushma Swaraj. Many other colleagues of his would have gone abroad for this,” tweeted senior counsel and former Aam Aadmi Party senior Prashant Bhushan. External Affairs Minister Swaraj had undergone a similar surgery in December 2016. 

Jaitley has not been coming to his ministry offices for over a month, clearing files from home and meeting people in a controlled environment. He had cancelled a scheduled trip to Britain in the second week of April. And, took the oath of office after re-election to the Rajya Sabha in mid-April, nearly two weeks after other members.

In September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to treat weight gain because of a long-standing diabetic condition. The surgery was at Max Hospital but he was later shifted to AIIMS because of complications. He had heart surgery several years earlier.

There are, at present, a number of challenges at his ministry. Such as high crude oil prices, the continuing story on mismanagement of loans by banks, and efforts to deal with the twin balance sheet issues, fallout from the Nirav Modi scandal, and ensuring finances for flagship schemes in what is a crucial year before the 2019 general election.

Earlier, in 2012, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had held direct charge of the finance ministry for a little over a month. That was after Pranab Mukherjee being made President, and P Chidambaram yet to take charge as successor. 

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