October 26, 2009

Recovering from surgery, Daniels says ‘the news is very good’

Ten days after his Oct. 12 surgery, President Ronald J. Daniels sent a broadcast message to faculty, staff and students to update them on his physical condition, medical prognosis and activities on the university’s behalf.

“My recovery is progressing well and I am slowly, but surely, starting to feel much better,” he wrote from his Nichols House residence, where he has been since leaving the hospital on Oct. 19. “Yesterday, Provost [Lloyd] Minor and I took a long early morning victory lap through the Homewood campus and I talked with a number of senior leaders on and off campus. Today, I continue to have conversations with university administrators on various issues. I will be doing my best to balance my doctors’ insistence on a good, long recovery with my constitutional inability to remain at rest for very long. This will be a challenge. While I will not return to work full time until sometime in December, I am, and will continue to be, engaged with the university on core strategic and operational issues.”

Daniels’ surgery, which took place at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was performed by a team led by Richard Schulick, the John L. Cameron, M.D., Professor for Alimentary Tract Diseases in the School of Medicine. To access a mass next to Daniels’ pancreas, the surgeons performed a Whipple procedure, during which part of his pancreas was removed.

In his message last week, Daniels explained that while the Whipple procedure is often used for the removal of pancreatic tumors, which he did not have, it is also used to remove other tumors in the gastrointestinal system.

Daniels said that his pathology report, which he had indicated he would share with the Johns Hopkins community, was now complete, “and the news is very good.” He said that the report identified a rare type of tumor in the intestine (duodenum) that is technically called a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. “In my case, fortunately, the pathologists reported that the tumor was of ‘low malignant potential,’ a category in which the vast majority of patients are cured following surgery alone,” he wrote.

His doctors, he said, told him that the tumor had been identified early, that it was still small and completely localized, and that it was fully removed. “As a consequence,” Daniels said, “there is no need for further therapy. Therefore, my goal is straightforward: recover fully from the surgery. And, of course, more generally, the outlook is the same as when I last communicated with you [following the surgery]: My prognosis is excellent.”

Since his surgery, Daniels has been in frequent contact with senior leadership, including Provost Minor, who has been managing the business of the university on a day-by-day basis and standing in for him as needed.

“I can tell you firsthand that the president is recovering wonderfully,” Minor said. “We have communicated daily since his surgery, and he continues to be very involved in all of the most pressing university matters. Now that he has his BlackBerry back, there’s no stopping him.”