ASSOCIATED PRESS / COURTESY DON HO, DON MARGOLIS
Don Ho smiled and gave a "shaka" sign yesterday while recovering at a hospital in Bangkok. Ho was moved out of intensive care at a Thai hospital Wednesday and was doing well after an experimental procedure on his ailing heart, his doctor said. Ho plans to return to Hawaii in a few days.
Don Ho doing well after experimental treatment
Ailing crooner Don Ho said yesterday he is feeling much better and might return home to the islands within a few days.
Ho remained at a Thai hospital recovering from an experimental stem cell procedure on his ailing heart. He was moved out of intensive care Wednesday.
"I'm feeling much better, and I'm so happy I came up here to do it," the 75-year-old Ho said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to coming home."
A photo released yesterday by his Honolulu publicist Donna Jung shows a shirtless, baseball cap-wearing Ho smiling and waving a "shaka" from his hospital bed in Bangkok. It also shows a big red, heart-shaped pillow, several tubes attached to his body and Ho wearing his trademark raspberry-tinted sunglasses.
"Tell my fans to stay healthy," he said. "I'm ready to go another 50 years."
Ho, known for his signature tune "Tiny Bubbles," might return to Hawaii within a few days, much earlier than planned.
Dr. Amit Patel, a heart surgeon from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who oversaw the procedure in Bangkok, said he would not be surprised to see Ho singing before Christmas.
Ho underwent a new treatment Tuesday that has not been approved in the United States. It involves multiplying stem cells taken from his blood and injecting them into his heart in hopes of strengthening the organ.
Patel said Ho was one among the first patients with nonischemic cardiomyopathy -- a weakened heart muscle not due to blockages in the coronary arteries -- selected for the VesCell adult stem cell therapy. The singer had "an extremely weak" heart that was pumping far less blood than a healthy organ before the surgery, his doctor said.
The experimental procedure was developed by TheraVitae Co., which has offices in Thailand and laboratories in Israel.