Mallott recovering from emergency surgery

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Alaska Native leader Byron Mallott is recovering in a New Zealand hospital after undergoing emergency surgery Saturday evening to remove a blood clot from his brain.

Mallott's brother-in-law, Larry Powell of Yakutat, said the surgery was successful and doctors expect a full recovery.

''It was rather tense for a while until he got to the hospital,'' Powell told the Juneau Empire. ''The real anxious period (during surgery) didn't last that long, but it was pretty scary.''

Mallott, 59, was traveling in New Zealand over the weekend, studying education programs in small villages of native New Zealanders when he developed a headache that grew severe.

On Saturday, he was medically evacuated about 35 minutes north from the village of Tauranga to Auckland, where doctors at Auckland Memorial Hospital removed the blood clot. Mallott was joined by his wife, Toni, shortly after he was admitted.

Rep. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, a longtime friend and colleague of Mallott, said he has been in touch with the family and was told the blood clot was removed before it hemorrhaged.

Nianoa Thompson, a colleague of Mallott from Honolulu who accompanied him during the trip and throughout the surgery, kept family members updated during the operation.

Thompson said Mallott was monitored continually for mental capacity and described him as being ''very alert'' and ''having full grasp of his environment and condition at all times.''

Mallott will remain in Auckland for at least a few more days and then travel for further treatment at Stanford Medical Center.

Mallott is president and chief executive officer of the Alaska Native advocacy group First Alaskans Institute. He has served as mayor of Juneau and Yakutat, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., president and CEO of Sealaska, the Native regional corporation for Southeast Alaska, and president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

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