- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ROME (AP) - Silvio Berlusconi’s doctors said Wednesday the three-time Italian premier emerged from heart surgery to replace a faulty valve lucid, in excellent shape and very much the incorrigible “bunga bunga” billionaire he is known to be: He immediately offered his Spanish nurse a job on one of his TV channels in Spain.

Surgeon Dr. Ottavio Alfieri told a press conference Wednesday that there were no complications during the four-hour surgery Tuesday and that overall, Berlusconi’s heart was in very good shape.

While complications could still arise, “Personally, I feel very calm,” he said.

The 79-year-old Berlusconi was admitted to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan on June 5 suffering from what his personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said was a potentially fatal heart-valve problem.

The aortic valve, which hadn’t been closing properly, was replaced with one made of bovine tissue.

Zangrillo said he took Berlusconi off the respirator Wednesday morning, and that he immediately showed he was his old self.

“After about 30 seconds he was ready to joke, in this case complimenting the care he had received during the night by one of my intensive care nurses named Cristina,” Zangrillo said.

“He offered her an alternative to go work at Telecinco,” the Spanish TV channel operated by the Spanish branch of Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire.

Berlusconi’s fondness for young, beautiful women is well known, and his raunchy “bunga bunga” parties - complete with showgirl strip-teases and wads of cash paid to guests - have been a fixture of Italian media coverage for years.

Alfieri said the surgery became necessary after a rapid and “severe” deterioration of Berlusconi’s valve, which had been under observation for some time. Because the condition didn’t drag on and strain the heart, Berlusconi’s overall heart condition was very good, he said.

Zangrillo said Berlusconi would be moved from intensive care on Thursday and would begin walking. Further rehabilitation would last into July, he said.

He said there would be no restrictions on Berlusconi eventually returning to politics or even running a campaign, though he said he personally would advise him to relax and enjoy his retirement.

Berlusconi has been sidelined from public office since a 2013 tax fraud conviction forced him to give up his Senate seat. He still leads the Forza Italia party he created when he leapt into politics more than 20 years ago, but the party fared poorly in local mayoral races earlier this month.


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