Tutu to seek 3rd opinion on his prostate cancer from surgeon at Hopkins Archbishop expected in Baltimore today

March 13, 1997|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,SUN FOREIGN STAFF Sun staff writer Jonathan Bor contributed to this article.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the architect of this nation's effort to come to terms with its apartheid past, is coming to Baltimore today to seek a third medical opinion on his prostate cancer from a prominent surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Tutu, 65, who heads South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is expected to visit Dr. Patrick Walsh, who heads the hospital's urology department.

John Allen, Tutu's spokesman in Cape Town, said the prelate viewed the visit to Hopkins as private but would hold a news conference at the South African Embassy in Washington tomorrow to discuss his health. Allen said he did not know how long Tutu would be at the hospital.

The archbishop will be accompanied only by his wife, Leah.

"He and his wife want to work through this themselves, on their own," Allen said.

Tutu, who had surgery for removal of most of his prostate when the cancer was diagnosed by doctors in Cape Town in January, received a second opinion at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center while he was in New York earlier this week for a dinner in honor of Jackie Robinson.

Tutu's doctors assume the remaining part of the gland is cancerous, Allen said. The second and third opinions from leading U.S. oncologists will help him decide whether to attempt to treat the cancer with radiotherapy or have radical surgery. The cancer, according to Allen, has not spread beyond the prostate.

Walsh, who has treated many celebrities and political leaders, is best known for developing a method of removing cancerous prostates without sacrificing urinary control and sexual function.

The archbishop "feels fine," said Allen, noting that after a brief recuperation from his surgery Tutu, who officially retired from his church role when he reached 65 last year, returned to work at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission has been holding a series of hearings into the human rights atrocities during the apartheid years. It holds out the possibility of amnesty to those who confess their crimes, and appalling confessions have come from both blacks and whites.

If Tutu elects to have surgery he will be forced to leave the commission at a time when it is entering one of its most sensitive periods, the hearings on the assassination of black activist Steve Biko in 1977 by five white police officers.

Pub Date: 3/13/97

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