Dayton reveals lung damage after surgery

After spending a month at the Mayo Clinic, Gov. Mark Dayton revealed Thursday that he had complications following a planned surgery that affected his lungs and forced him to spend weeks longer than anticipated in a medical unit.

Dayton, who is in the final months of his last term, hasn’t appeared in public since early October. His daily schedule has referenced meetings with key staff since then, and the update on his medical condition didn’t come until after MPR News reported Wednesday on his extended hospital stay.

The 71-year-old underwent two procedures in a matter of a few days to resolve spine problems that were affecting his leg strength and balance. After the second procedure, his office issued a statement saying he expected to return to St. Paul within a few days.

But he wound up staying in Rochester for much longer.

“Unfortunately, I experienced post-surgical complications, which caused damage to my lungs.  At my doctors’ recommendation, I have remained at Mayo for therapy to rehabilitate my lungs,” Dayton said in a statement issued Thursday. “During this time, I have been in constant contact with my Commissioners and staff.  I expect to return to St. Paul in the next few days.”

Dayton didn’t run for a third term and will turn over power to Gov.-elect Tim Walz in early January.

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