Defense Sec Underwent Secret Hospitalization To Treat Prostate Cancer, Pentagon Reveals


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on Jan. 1 with a urinary tract infection following a December surgical procedure to treat prostate cancer, doctors from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said on Tuesday.

Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut said in a statement that Austin was under general anesthesia for the December cancer procedure but not during his subsequent and still ongoing January stay at Walter Reed. After assessing that Austin had a urinary tract infection, physicians this month found abdominal fluid that impaired the function of his small intestines and backed up his intestinal contents. They treated Austin by pumping out the contents of his stomach through his nose and draining the fluid in his abdomen.

"His infection has cleared. He continues to make progress and we anticipate a full recovery although this can be a slow process," the doctors said in the statement, released by the Pentagon.

Tuesday's revelation is the first insight the public has received into the nature of Austin's initial surgery and subsequent complications since news of his hospitalization first broke Friday night. The Pentagon had cited "privacy reasons" for not providing more information and at first described the initial surgery as simply an "elective medical procedure."

Politico reported Monday that President Joe Biden would not fire Austin or accept his resignation in the aftermath of the controversy over Austin's secret hospitalization.

Austin was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 1 due to the urinary tract infection, but National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the president himself were unaware of his hospitalization until three days after Austin's admission. Austin also did not inform the White House of his initial hospital visit for the cancer surgery.

His absence came amid attacks from Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis on commercial shipping vessels and military craft defending them in the Red Sea and attacks from other Iran proxies in Iraq and Syria.