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Brazilian leader Bolsonaro evaluated for possible emergency surgery

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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil November 9, 2020.
Adriano Machado | Reuters

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was being evaluated Wednesday for possible emergency surgery for an intestinal obstruction, his office said.

Bolsonaro, 66, was admitted to the Armed Forces Hospital in Braslia early in the morning and was "feeling well," according to an initial statement that said doctors were examining his persistent hiccups.

But hours later, the president's office said Dr. Antonio Luiz Macedo, the surgeon who operated on Bolsonaro after he was stabbed in the abdomen during the 2018 presidential campaign, decided to transfer him to Sao Paulo, where he will undergo additional tests to evaluate the need for an emergency surgery.

The stabbing caused intestinal damage and serious internal bleeding and the president has gone through several surgeries since, some unrelated to the attack.

In recent weeks, Bolsonaro has appeared to struggle with speaking on various occasions and said that he suffers from recurring hiccups.

"I apologize to everyone who is listening to me, because I've been hiccuping for five days now," Bolsonaro said in an interview with Radio Guaiba on July 7. He suggested that some medications prescribed after dental surgery might be the cause. "I have the hiccups 24 hours a day."

The following day, during his weekly Facebook Live session, Bolsonaro apologized again for not being able to express himself well due to week-long hiccups.

Bolsonaro has been under growing pressure from a congressional inquiry into his administration's handling of the pandemic and alleged corruption in the acquisition of vaccines against Covid-19, and recent polls have indicated that he could lose in the next 2022 election.

On Tuesday night, in a 20-minute encounter with the president in Brasilia, supporters repeatedly asked him to look after his health.