Hayden reported in good condition after operation

May 25, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden's neurosurgeon issued an "all's well" statement yesterday after his brain surgery Monday, and Johns Hopkins Hospital listed his condition as "good."

After a day of confusion Monday -- when nobody would say whether Mr. Hayden was in surgery or even a patient -- county Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelly told the County Council yesterday at its annual budget session that Mr. Hayden's operation had been completed.

Mr. Kelly said the executive was "resting comfortably in intensive care" after successful surgery to remove a congenital blood vessel malformation that had caused him headaches for 20 years.

A blood vessel broke May 8, causing a partial loss of Mr. Hayden's right-side vision, and he ultimately opted for surgery to repair the problem.

Yesterday's brief statement was passed on to Mr. Kelly by the executive's surgeon, Dr. Daniele Rigamonte, who worked it out with another patient at Hopkins -- Robert Hughes, the county communications director -- who was in the same hospital for tests.

Dr. Rigamonte would not comment on the operation, and Mr. Hayden has cloaked himself in privacy since he checked into the hospital under an assumed name Sunday. Citing Maryland privacy laws, hospital officials said they would not give out any information about the executive's condition.

Although he has not been in his office since his initial attack May 8, Mr. Hayden's $1.26 billion 1994-1995 budget made it through the council virtually untouched, and officials said the county's charter government -- which puts day-to-day operations under an appointed administrator -- has functioned as it was supposed to in the executive's absence.

According to specialists in the field and doctors who have treated him, Mr. Hayden's condition is the result of a tangle of delicate blood vessels in the left rear of his brain.

These vessels lack the tiny capillaries that normally connect arteries with veins, and the increased flow of blood through them sometimes produces high pressure and headaches.

In middle age, a few people with the condition experience bleeding, as Mr. Hayden did. Although normally not life-threatening or as serious as other kinds of strokes or bleeding in the brain, doctors said the condition can produce the kind of vision loss that the county executive experienced.

Lost vision may return

Once that happens, specialists said, it is usually wise to remove the vessels surgically or use long-term radiation and medical glue to seal them off and prevent any further bleeding.

Some of the lost vision may return over time, the doctors said.

After undergoing several photographic scans of the brain and an angiogram, in which dye is injected into the bloodstream to track blood flow in the brain, Mr. Hayden decided that surgery was his only choice.

Dr. Rigamonte, his surgeon, has been unwilling to describe the procedure, but Dr. Gary Steinberg, chief of cerebro-vascular surgery at Stanford University Medical Center in California, said it generally involves cutting away a piece of the skull just above the malformed vessels, cutting the vessels away and sealing off the connections with heat.

Mr. Hayden said last week that Dr. Rigamonte told him he would have to remain in the hospital for 10 days after surgery and then spend at least two weeks at home to regain his strength and stamina.

No one could explain Mr. Hayden's sudden turnaround in dealing with publicity about his condition. When he was first hospitalized, the council was ready to make final budget-cutting decisions, and things could have gotten sticky.

Administration lobbyist Patrick Roddy used his experience in county and state government to help the badly split seven-member council communicate among its members and with the administration.

Mr. Kelly, a career county school official who came to work for Mr. Hayden as administrative officer in 1990, said he handled negotiations with just two brief telephone conversations with his boss.

Praise for administration

When the council finally adopted the budget yesterday with cuts that lowered the tax rate by a penny without cutting services, the administration won praise from council members who otherwise saved their verbal darts for one another.

Officials said it was an example of home-rule government the way the county's charter creators envisioned it when they switched from the old commission form of government in the late 1950s to the current executive council arrangement.

Unlike Baltimore's government, which has no deputy mayor or administrative officer, Baltimore County's was designed to adapt when the top elected official is ill or away.

While Mr. Hayden recuperates, Mr. Kelly will run the county, as provided in the county charter. Second in the line of succession is the county budget officer, Fred Homan.

Even under normal conditions, the administrative officer runs day-to-day operations, and the charter provides for his term of office to extend six months beyond the executive's to ensure a smooth transfer of power between executives.

Mr. Kelly said his boss had left no special instructions for anyone to follow in his absence.

He said that as soon as Mr. Hayden recuperates enough to talk by telephone, any important policy questions will be relayed to him.

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