Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

MANILA — Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is scheduled to undergo surgery at the St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City to repair a damaged cervical spine that could lead to paralysis if not treated immediately, her doctors said.

According to the medical bulletin issued by her physician Juliet Gopez-Cervantes Tuesday, Arroyo will undergo emergency surgery because of a “damaged cervical spine with multilevel cervical spondylosis.”

Arroyo went through a battery of tests hours after she was rushed to the SLMC Monday afternoon from Pampanga after complaining of severe neck pain.

Arroyo visited her district in lieu of attending President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Her doctors warned that if the condition is left untreated, she could be paralyzed.

Cervantes could not give the exact date of the operation but said it should take place immediately.

Last month, Arroyo was briefly confined in the same hospital for the recurring ailment or cervical radiculopathy.

Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, however, said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that his sister-in-law was already “being prepped” for surgery.

Cervantes said the surgery, which could last from three to five hours, will relieve the pressure on the nerves pinched by Arroyo’s backbone.

She said the procedure would also realign the spinal bones pressing on the nerves.

“The surgery itself is risky. It involves a very sensitive area in the spinal cord,” Cervantes said, adding the nerve that will be the subject of the surgery affects the movement of the hands and the respiratory muscles.

She said tests revealed that Arroyo’s hands are already showing weakness.

She said after the surgery, the recovery period would take about two to three weeks.

Cervantes and Arroyo’s spokesperson Maite Defensor said too much work and even “emotional stress” are the likely causes of the recurrence of the ailment.

Defensor said Arroyo was advised to undergo the surgery during her first confinement but she opted just to take medication despite the severe pain.

She said Arroyo has a high pain threshold.

“Maybe the attack is now terrible and she thinks that it could not go away with just taking a rest,” Defensor said, adding: “I think she has a lot on her mind.”

She said with Arroyo was her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and their two sons, Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo.

She said visitors were restricted and most were not allowed by doctors to see her.

Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, who has been visiting Arroyo since she was admitted, appealed to her detractors to go easy on her until she has fully recovered and able to face her accusers.

Arroyo is currently facing five plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice.

A complaint of violation of human rights in connection with disappearances of activists was also filed against her.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he is praying for the speedy recovery of Arroyo.

Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez, her former spokesman in the Palace and a medical doctor, wished the surgeons good luck.

Malacañang also wished a successful surgery for Arroyo.

“We hope that you (Arroyo) have a successful surgery and we ask the people to pray for her,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing in Malacañang Tuesday.

He said Arroyo’s health condition will not affect the cases filed or that would be filed against her.

“Our plea to those who would file cases is to have a strong case before filing it,” he said.

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