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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 08:57 GMT
Minnelli leaves hospital
Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli could take several months to recover
By the BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Miami

The singer and actress Liza Minnelli has left hospital in Florida after a three-week battle with a potentially fatal virus.

Doctors say it will be several months before she recovers fully.

I'm so lucky that I'm here now

Liza Minnelli
Minnelli looked weak but cheerful as she left the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Fort Lauderdale in a wheelchair and was taken home in a stretch limousine.

The Oscar-winning star of the film Cabaret had been suffering from viral encephalitis which can be deadly.

The 54-year-old singer left the clinic with her half-sister Lorna Luft.

"I feel wonderful," she said.

She added: "I'm with my sister, and I've never felt better in my life."

Minnelli's publicist, Michael Hartman, said she was looking forward to being back at home.

Concern from her fans had pulled her through the ordeal and she wished to thank them for their prayers and their love, Hartman added.

Family reconciliation

Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli
Minnelli has been reunited with her half-sister
Minnelli and her half-sister appear to have reconciled after falling out over a book written by Luft more than a year ago.

"I'm so lucky that I'm here now and Lorna and I are so lucky to be together here today," Minnelli shouted before disappearing into her rented home.

"My sister is the best," Luft said.

Doctors have appealed for Minnelli to be left in peace as she tries to recover.

"Although the condition is now under control, due to the initial severity of viral encephalitis, it will be several months before Ms. Minnelli is completely well," Dr Maurice Hanson said in a statement.

Paramedics were summoned to Minnelli's Fort Lauderdale home on 8 October after her chauffeur found the singer unconscious.

Initial reports speculated that she had suffered a stroke.

See also:

23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Minnelli recovering from brain disease
01 Jul 99 | Entertainment
'Big Voice' Liza's comeback
24 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Filmography: Liza Minnelli
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