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Lou Reed’s Liver Transplant Successful; Was Dying after a Life that Celebrated Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll

By Tony Sokol | June 02, 2013 09:04 AM EDT

Lou Reed’s liver transplant “went very well,” according to his wife, the performance artist Laurie Anderson. The founding member of the Velvet Underground, New York City’s proto-punk rock outfit that celebrated the dark underside of the sixties, is recovering after last month’s transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Cleveland, the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Lou Reed’s liver transplant followed years of drug use that took its toll with a diagnosis with hepatitis. The 71-year-old Reed was one of the most influential songwriters of the early days of rock. His songs chronicled sex, drugs and rock and roll in a way that no artists would tackle them in the decade dominated by the music of the Beatles.

Reed wrote such songs as “Walk on the Wild Side,” “Heroin” and “I’m Waiting for the Man,” which was about waiting in a threatening uptown neighborhood to score dope. He recently cancelled concerts due to “unavoidable complications.” His songwriter wife Anderson, best known for her 1981 hit single “O Superman,” said “It’s as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don’t get it for fun.”

Anderson said the operation was “a big surgery which went very well. You send out two planes – one for the donor, one for the recipient – at the same time. You bring the donor in live, you take him off life support. It’s a technological feat. I was completely awestruck. I find certain things about technology truly, deeply inspiring.”

Reed sang that he took heroin “to nullify my life” and admitted it would “be the death of me” once explained that “I take drugs just because, in the 20th century, in a technological age living in the city, there are certain drugs you have to take just to keep yourself normal like a caveman, just to bring yourself up or down. But to attain equilibrium you need to take certain drugs. They don’t get you high even, they just get you normal.”

Reed has been clean for years, but the damage was done.

Anderson said Reed had the operation at the Mayo Clinic instead of at home because New York City hospitals were dysfunctional. She said: “Fortunately we can outsource like corporations. It’s medical tourism. The Cleveland clinic is massive. They have the best results for heart, liver and kidney transplants. Whenever I get discouraged about how stupid technology is and how greedy and stupid Americans are, I go to the Cleveland clinic because the people there are genuinely very kind and very smart.”

Anderson said Reed was already up and about doing t’ai chi and could be back at work in a few months, but “he’ll never totally recover from this.”

The couple was together for fifteen years before making a spur-of-the-moment decision to get married. Reed had been very vocally and publically gay. Reed collaborated with Metallica in 2011.

Tagged :  world news, lou reed, liver, transplant

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