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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 02:07 GMT 03:07 UK
Best 'making progress' after op
George Best on Parkinson
George Best was ordered off alcohol two years ago
Football legend George Best could be out of intensive care within 24 hours, after making good progress following a liver transplant.

Doctors said they were "very pleased" with Best's progress since undergoing surgery at a London hospital on Tuesday.

"Mr Best is comfortable, and recognising family and staff, and will remain in the intensive care ward for the rest of the day," they said in a statement.

His wife Alex, 29, told reporters it was a "massive relief" her husband had come through the operation successfully.


He is in a very satisfactory state at present

Nigel Heaton and Professor Roger Williams

Although still being closely monitored, Best's doctors hope he could be transferred to a ward at the Cromwell Hospital either early on Thursday.

Since news broke of the operation the 56-year-old football legend has received thousands of letters of support including more than 1,000 'get well' messages posted on an internet site.

Best's agent Philip Hughes, accepting them on his behalf, said Best was "overwhelmed" by the public's "amazing" support.

Professor Roger Williams, consultant physician at the hospital, said Best - a recovering alcoholic - would be in hospital for several weeks but if he got through the first week, his long-term chances of survival were good.

Alex Best waiting on the balcony of the Cromwell Hospital
Best's wife Alex is with him at the hospital
"Many surgical problems anticipated clearly haven't come to much," he said.

"He looked good this morning and he's starting to wake up," he said. "He's responding. Obviously, he can't talk as he still remains on the ventilator. The signs are the liver is working well. Overall, we are very happy with his condition. Overnight, we've seen everything settling down from the operation."

Consultant surgeon Nigel Heaton, who carried out the surgery, said it was a difficult operation which took longer than usual.

Good chance

The celebrated footballer, who had been waiting for a donor for almost eight months, had just returned from holiday in Malta.

In December Best was told he needed a transplant following medical confirmation that his liver was only functioning at 20%.

Mr Williams, who is director of the Institute of Hepatology at University College London, said then that the conditions were right for the operation to go ahead.

At the time he said: "A liver transplant is very much a routine procedure although it is a very big procedure.

"It is done very widely when the indications are there medically and the results on the whole are terrific".

Warning

Earlier that month he had been admitted to hospital in Limassol, Cyprus, suffering from a fever and a gastrointestinal tract infection.

George Best
Best was "very sick", doctors said

The star underwent extensive treatment for liver damage at the Cromwell Hospital two years ago.

He was warned then that if he ever drank again it could kill him.

And in February last year Best, who now works as a sports commentator, was treated at Belfast City Hospital for pneumonia.

Best has battled with drink all his life and was arrested in 1984 for drink-driving and assaulting a police officer.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
George Best's Consultant Prof Roger Williams
"I am very pleased with his progress"
BBC NI's London correspondent Stephen Walker:
"He can't talk but he has been able to recognise family members"
Carol Maskel, liver transplant patient
"I feel 20 years younger"
George Best

Best's liver transplant

Background

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25 Jan 00 | N Ireland
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