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Atlanta attorney with TB in good condition after surgery

  • Story Highlights
  • TB patient Andrew Speaker was in good condition Thursday
  • Surgeons removed part of Speaker's lung to aid in TB recovery
  • May return to National Jewish Medical and Research Center as early as Thursday
  • Atlanta man set off international health scare in May when he traveled to Europe
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AURORA, Colorado (CNN) -- The Atlanta lawyer whose tuberculosis diagnosis caused an international health scare is in good condition Thursday, two days after surgery to remove part of his lungs.


Andrew Speaker, 31, has been transferred out of the intensive care unit at the University of Colorado Hospital.

Andrew Speaker, 31, has been transferred out of the intensive care unit to the pulmonary department at the University of Colorado Hospital, where he underwent a two-hour operation to remove a diseased portion of his right lung on Tuesday.

He may be transferred back to National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver as early as Thursday or Friday, pending X-ray results, a UC hospital nurse told CNN.

At National Jewish, he will continue taking the medications prescribed by his doctors to fight the tuberculosis until cultures taken from him are negative for tuberculosis bacteria for eight weeks.

At that point, he will be considered non-infectious, although he will still be monitored by health care professionals.

Speaker said it was his decision to have the surgery, which was just one of his treatment options.

"With the amount of treatment I'm going to be on, the doctors said if you go ahead and have this surgery, you don't have to worry 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, or 30 years from now if it's ever going to come back. So it's worth the peace of mind to me," the attorney told CNN Tuesday.

Speaker was originally diagnosed in May with an "extensively drug-resistant" strain (XDR-TB) of the respiratory disease, but on July 3 doctors said he had multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is treatable with less toxic drugs.

Speaker and his fiancee had gone to Europe on May 12 for their wedding in Greece, despite warnings from the Fulton County Health Department in Georgia that he should not fly because he risked infecting fellow passengers.

Since then, eight people who shared a flight with Speaker have filed a lawsuit against him, seeking $1.3 million in damages.

Rosalind Yee, an attorney for the plaintiffs who said her clients include a ninth person who is related to one of the passengers but was not on the flight, said all eight passengers have undergone TB tests since they returned home.


One of them, a 72-year-old man, tested positive for TB on a skin test, though it appears unlikely that Speaker was the source. The man's X-rays were normal, she said, and he is awaiting results of further tests.

In the past year, there have been about 124 cases of MDR-TB in the United States. About half of those patients have elected to undergo the surgery to remove the diseased portion of their lungs. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Amy Burkholder, and Miriam Falco contributed to this report

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