Lange's condition 'stable but serious'

By Patrick Crewdson

Former Prime Minister David Lange remains in a stable condition in Middlemore Hospital - but he is not yet out of immediate danger.

"I still don't know when he will be able to come home," said his wife Margaret Pope.

"He's still very awake and alert most of the time, and he's enjoying visitors, but he is uncomfortable," she said last night.

Prime Minister Helen Clark was among the well-wishers when she visited Mr Lange in hospital on Friday.

"I found his spirits very, very good. His health is very poor."

Mr Lange, who turns 63 in a fortnight, was admitted to hospital nine days ago for treatment for the rare, incurable plasma disorder amyloidosis, which he was diagnosed with in 2002.

The potentially fatal condition can affect organs such as the heart and kidneys.

Mr Lange has had a history of health problems, including blocked arteries, for which he had angioplasty during his term as Prime Minister.

On Friday, doctors were attempting to get the heavily-sedated Mr Lange out of bed and walking.

His brother, artist Peter Lange, described the former PM as being mentally "at 90 of the usual 100 per cent" despite his body "breaking down".

Mr Lange entered parliament in a by-election in 1977 as the MP for Mangere.

He led the fourth Labour Government during the radically reforming Rogernomics years of 1984-1989.

In 1985, he won the Oxford Union debate in the UK, arguing that "nuclear weapons are morally indefensible".

He stood down as Prime Minister in 1989, when he was replaced by Geoffrey Palmer, and quit as an MP in 1996.


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