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Argentina's Kirchner To Have Surgery For Brain Hematoma

Days after doctors said Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner must take a month off from work to recover from a brain hematoma, reports now indicate that she'll undergo surgery to relieve the condition Tuesday.

"Kirchner, 60, experienced a 'transitory and slight' loss of muscular strength in her left arm on Sunday, and surgical intervention was indicated to drain a subdural hematoma," Agence France-Presse reports, citing the hospital that's treating the president.

Over the weekend, it emerged that Kirchner had suffered a previously unreported blow to the head in August — an event that was blamed for creating a subdural hematoma on her brain. The condition occurs when blood collects in the area between the surface of the brain and its outer covering.

An initial recommendation for rest was upgraded to a call for surgery after Kirchner reported further symptoms Sunday, The Buenos Aires Herald reports.

The development adds to a string of unexpected revelations about Kirchner's health in recent years.

In early 2012, she underwent emergency surgery for thyroid cancer, just weeks after being sworn in for her second term in office. But tests then showed her condition had been benign. She must now take medications to compensate for lacking a thyroid gland. Kirchner also has low blood pressure.

Kirchner has been Argentina's president since 2007; she succeeded her husband, Nestor, in what many saw as a ploy to skirt the country's laws on term limits. Before his death from a heart attack in 2010, Nestor Kirchner had been seen as a possible candidate to return to the post.

The Argentine leader is facing surgery weeks before her country will hold vital congressional elections. As columnist James Bosworth writes for The Christian Science Monitor, many of her political opponents are wishing Kirchner a speedy recovery, even as they question what they call her administration's secrecy about her health.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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