LOS ANGELES, Jan 15 (AFP) - Ailing actress Zsa Zsa Gabor had most of her right leg amputated on Friday due to an infection which would have killed her without the surgery, her husband said.
Doctors said the 93-year-old remains in frail health and is being monitored closely after the operation in Los Angeles, the latest health woe for the ageing star.
“She would have died in a very short time because the infection was moving,” her husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt told AFP shortly after his wife came round from surgery. “She's doing fine. She's in the recovery room, She opened her eyes (and) looked at me, and there was a little smile. She's OK,” he added.
|Hungarian-born actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor is shown in this undated publicity photo
||Zsa Zsa Gabor listens in court during her trial in Beverly Hills in this May 1, 1990 file photo.
The flamboyant star -- who was read the last rites during a health scare last year -- has been in hospital since just after New Year due to an infection, and had been treated with antibiotics.
But doctors decided they had no alternative but to remove her leg, as the infection had entered the bone.
“Ms. Gabor needed an amputation above her knee due to poor circulation and a large ulcerated area on her right leg,” said David Rigberg, associate professor of vascular surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
“After consulting with her husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, we felt this was the best medical course of action. The surgery today went well, however, she is in frail health so we will continue to monitor her closely.”Before Friday's operation her spokesman John Blanchette had said that she would die without the surgery.
The Hungarian-born actress's health has been deteriorating for a number of years. She was partly paralyzed in a car crash in 2002, and suffered a stroke in 2005.
Last July she was hospitalized after she fell and broke her hip. She underwent hip replacement surgery but suffered more complications, including a blood clot for which she had more surgery.
During another hospital stay in August, she called in a priest to administer last rites, then left the hospital a day later insisting that she wanted to be back home in her posh Bel Air neighborhood. “This has been a long, tough road since 2002 when she had an accident that originally disabled her,” he said. “She has never been able to walk and her health has spiraled down,” said her spokesman.
Gabor's husband said his wife was not told about the amputation, and still doesn't know. “We didn't want her to know, because the doctors didn't want the blood pressure to go up, you know when you tell somebody 'Hey, we take your leg off,' they get hysterical, the blood pressure goes up .. and they canot operate.
“The doctors told me the first three or four days she wouldn't even know she's lost her leg. And then slowly she will find out and then I have to talk to her,” he said.
Gabor's long career includes spots in a dozen films and TV series, including John Huston's 1952 “Moulin Rouge” and the 1958 film noir “Touch of Evil” by Orson Welles. She also lent her voice to several animated films and TV series.
But the platinum blonde is especially known for her flamboyant lifestyle, legal troubles, nine marriages and a propensity to call just about everyone “darling” with her distinctive accent.
Anhalt said he was relieved that the surgery had been done, and was sure she will be, because she has been in so much pain from the infection.
“I feel actually good about it. She has no more infection now and she doesn't feel any pain any more,” he said. “The infection was terrible pain all over her body. You couldn't touch her hand or anything, she screamed with pain .. now it's gone, the infection's gone, she feels better all over her body now.
“When she finds out the leg is gone, that's a different story, but she won't have pain any more.”