MIAMI – Venezuelan singer Jose Luis Rodriguez, better known as “El Puma,” underwent on Monday a double lung transplant at a Miami hospital and is now in the intensive care unit, his publicist Beatriz Parga told EFE.
After a long time waiting for a donor, “last night they called him and he had the operation in the early hours Monday at Jackson Memorial Hospital,” Parga said.
“For him, this means a new chance at life and he’s going through the whole process with a lot of faith,” the publicist said, adding that right now the 73-year-old singer is in the ICU so doctors can keep watch on his body’s reaction to the new lungs and make sure “there’s no rejection.”
“The first 72 hours are crucial” in this process, Parga said, adding that the singer “knows he’s in the prayers” of his fans around the world “and that comforts him.”
Only very close family members are with the singer, who won international fame thanks to his telenovelas in the 1970s and the hit number “Pavo Real” that he launched in 1980.
The Venezuelan artist revealed in September 2014 that since the year 2000 he had suffered from pulmonary idiopathic fibrosis, an incurable disease characterized by a progressive loss of pulmonary function.
El Puma has spent a year trying to cure the disease with stem cell treatments.
However, “in the past few weeks, his lungs have forced him to rest a lot, since he has to be close to the oxygen,” Parga said.