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Turiaf expected to recovery from surgery in Spokane

7/28/2005 - NBA

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Former Gonzaga basketball star Ronny
Turiaf plans to return to Spokane to recover from heart surgery and
resume his quest to play in the National Basketball Association.

In a statement released Thursday from Stanford Hospital & Clinics in
Northern California, Turiaf said: "My surgery went well."

Turiaf underwent surgery at Stanford University Medical Center
in Palo Alto, Calif., on Tuesday, and Dr. Craig Miller said
afterward that he was able to repair Turiaf's enlarged aortic root
without having to replace the heart valve.

That means Turiaf could still play for the Los Angeles Lakers,
who drafted him in the second round and are paying for his medical
care.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few, one of several team officials at the
hospital, called the surgery outcome "terrific," adding, "It's
as good as we could have hoped for."

Turiaf plans to eventually return to Spokane to recover from his
surgery, GU officials said.

"It'll be good for him to get back among friends,'' Few said
Tuesday. He pulled himself and assistant coaches Bill Grier and
Leon Rice off the recruiting trail to have dinner with Turiaf on
Monday, the eve of the surgery.

The Lakers team physician discovered the seriousness of
Turiaf's heart condition, prompting them to void the two-year, $1
million contract he had signed earlier this month.

Instead of replacing the heart valve, Miller was able to mend
Turiaf's enlarged aortic root by inserting a synthetic conduit into
the base of the aorta. The conduit will reinforce the weakened
walls of Turiaf's main artery.

He's expected to be hospitalized about a week.

Turiaf, selected 37th in the draft, was diagnosed with an
enlarged aortic root during a team physical after the draft. Had
the condition not been caught and treated it could have been fatal,
team spokesman John Black said.

The 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 15.9 points, 9.5 rebounds
and 1.9 blocked shots as a senior at Gonzaga last season.

Miller told the Lakers representative and the Gonzaga contingent
that he felt Turiaf should be able to eventually resume his
basketball career. But the Lakers will ultimately have to decide if
Turiaf will be cleared to play.

"And that could be months, maybe even a year or more, before
that's all sorted out," Few said.

Grier and Rice left California on Tuesday morning to return to
Spokane, where the Bulldogs are holding their annual team
basketball camp.

Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd and Turiaf's former teammate
and roommate Brian Michaelson were to stay with Turiaf on
Wednesday.