- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine underwent surgery yesterday to remove excess bone growth in the leg that he broke in a near-fatal car crash last spring.

Mr. Corzine transferred gubernatorial power to Senate President Richard J. Codey at 10:22 a.m., five minutes before he was sedated for surgery at Cooper University Hospital, Corzine spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said.

The governor first underwent a low-dose radiation treatment on the leg to prevent future bone growth. The surgery itself, involving doctors cutting excess bone growth away from his left femur with a bone chisel, took a little more than an hour.

Mr. Corzine was in stable condition afterward and likely won’t need more surgery, said Dr. Robert Ostrum.

“He tolerated the procedure well,” Dr. Ostrum said. The surgeon said he removed five to 10 pounds of excess bone.

Miss Stainton said Mr. Corzine, 60, was awake by 1:30 p.m., visiting in his recovery room with his son and daughter and ordering chicken soup. He expected to resume his duties “sometime in the next day or so” and leave the hospital this week, she said.

Mr. Corzine was a front-seat passenger and not wearing a seat belt when his state-trooper-driven sport utility vehicle slammed into a guardrail at high speed after it was clipped by a pickup truck on the Garden State Parkway. A state police report determined that improper use of emergency lights by Mr. Corzine’s driver triggered the events that led to the crash.

The crash broke Mr. Corzine’s left leg in two places, and he had an excess growth common in patients with severe femur injuries. The condition, known as heterotopic ossification, occurs when the growth extends into muscle, causing discomfort, diminished motion and muscle weakness.

Mr. Corzine had been walking on his own for several weeks but with a limp.

Mr. Codey already has plenty of experience as acting governor. He filled in for Mr. Corzine for more than three weeks after the crash and is frequently transferred power when Mr. Corzine is out of the state. Mr. Codey, a Democrat like Mr. Corzine, also served as acting governor from November 2004 to January 2006 after former Gov. James E. McGreevey resigned.

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