Former F1 World Champion Niki Lauda is currently recovering in hospital after having to be rushed for a lung transplant on Thursday.
However, according to Austrian media, his recovery hit a major setback on Thursday, when Lauda was rushed to surgery for an emergency lung transplant. The procedure was successfully carried out by Walter Klepetko, head of the Clinical Department of Thoracic Surgery, and Konrad Hötzenecker. According to ORF, Lauda remains in critical condition.
A statement from the hospital in Vienna, the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, at which Lauda is currently recuperating, simply read: “We ask for your understanding that the family will not make public statements and request that the privacy of the Lauda family be safeguarded”.
Lauda was on holiday in Ibiza in the week leading up to the German Grand Prix, coming down with the flu. Initially ignoring the symptoms, he decided to leave his holiday and fly back to Vienna on his private jet in order to go to hospital in Vienna. He has been there ever since, including a stint in intensive care as he fought the virus.
According to Austrian paper OE24, Lauda’s lung was not 100% functional, due mostly to the accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix which saw the Austrian driver suffer severe burns to his upper body, as well as massive smoke inhalation which resulted in him being given the last rites in hospital. He famously recovered very quickly from that crash, in order to be back racing for Ferrari within weeks.