RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is scheduled to undergo hip replacement surgery Friday, a procedure likely to put a temporary halt to his frequent international trips but otherwise not disrupt his activities.
The 77-year-old leader should spend a few days in the Hospital Sirio-Libanes in the capital, Brasilia, before heading back to the presidential palace early next week, said Andrea Cordeiro of the president’s press office.
“The impact of Lula’s surgery will probably be small and should not affect the decision-making process or negotiations in a significant way,” said Paulo Calmon, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia.
“It is very likely that Lula, even in recovery, will continue to influence main decisions and will certainly demand to be informed of everything that is happening,” Calmon added.
Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure, which usually takes one to two hours, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Recovery varies from patient to patient, but most can resume light, day-to-day activities within three to six weeks.
Many patients initially use a cane, crutches or a walker until balance and strength improve, to avoid falls that could jeopardize the surgery’s success, says the orthopedic organization. The Brazilian newspaper O Globo said Thursday that Lula would use a walker. His press office could not confirm that information.
Lula is the oldest president in Brazil’s history. During the election campaign last year, he often joked that despite being over 70, “I have the energy of a 30-year-old and the lust of a 20-year-old.”
Having served two previous presidential terms, in 2003-2010, Lula said during the campaign that if he won he had no intention of running for a fourth four-year term. But in July, he said that U.S. President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign was an “encouragement” for him to run again in 2026.
Lula has been busy since taking office Jan. 1 from the man he defeated in the October 2022 runoff election, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. After vowing to “bring Brazil back” onto the world stage, Lula has traveled to 21 countries, including United States, China, France, India, Argentina and Angola.
“He tried to include all these crucial trips before the surgery,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a university in Sao Paulo. “Now he can’t continue to travel like that.”
This week the president wore a mask to public events, following medical directives to lessen the risk of contracting a respiratory illness before his operation.