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Graham undergoes heart surgery

'Full recovery' expected

Sen. Bob Graham
Sen. Bob Graham

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, a possible contender for the Democratic 2004 nomination for president, underwent surgery Friday to replace a deteriorating heart valve. Doctors described the surgery as a success.

"Senator Graham's surgery went well and was an uncomplicated procedure ... We anticipate a full recovery," Dr. John Eisold, the attending physician for members of Congress, said in a statement released by Graham's office.

Graham, 66, is expected to remain in National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for four to five days and then convalesce at home for a week to 10 days, the statement said.

"He will be able to resume light duties toward the end of the month and should be back to full strength within six weeks," Eisold said.

The surgery involved replacing Graham's aortic valve with a "bioprosthesis," a valve from a cow.

The surgery was scheduled following a physical exam Graham had in preparation for a possible White House campaign. Graham described the problem as a "heart murmur."

When Graham announced the need for surgery, he said he would wait until he is fully recovered before he decides whether to join the crowded Democratic presidential field.

Before the surgery, Graham -- in his third term as a U.S. senator -- said he was leaning toward a run.

Doctors originally scheduled the surgery for next week, but doctor availability and Graham's desire to make a decision about his political future prompted the date change.

National Naval Medical Center provides care for authorized government officials, including the president, vice-president, their families, members of Congress, justices of the Supreme Court and others designated by the secretary of the Navy.

-- Capitol Hill Producer Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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