Lou Reed hadn't appeared in public since March when he made a surprise cameo at a public playback of Transformer. He had already cancelled several gigs earlier that month, including a performance at Coachella, citing "unavoidable complications".
In the first official statement since his wife, Laurie Anderson, had revealed that he was "dying" of liver failure, the former Velvet Underground frontman credited both "modern medicine" and tai chi with saving his life.
Anderson had said last week that Reed "won't ever totally recover" from his surgery. His condition was "as serious as it gets", she told the Times, and it will take "a few months" for him to recover from the life-saving transplant.
After the surgery was completed, Anderson had some good words for American health care when speaking with media about her husband's condition, praising the Cleveland Clinic. "Fortunately we can outsource like corporations. It's medical tourism," she said.
"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".
That such an operation has become routine in modern medicine impressed Anderson. "This is no longer an operation that is life threatening," she said. "They put it [the new liver] in immediately and it started to work immediately. Every week it gets better. I can imagine a world where you can get everything transplanted".
Reed, in turn, wrote on his website, "I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry. I am bigger and stronger than ever. My Chen Taiji and health regimen has served me well all of these years, thanks to Master Ren Guang-yi.
I look forward to being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future."
A student of tai chi for more than 30 years, Reed began studying the Chen style around 2002, after seeing Guang-yi.
"When I saw what he did, I said, 'Oh my god, a man who can fly," he explained to Kung Fu magazine. When I saw that combination of grace and power, the fast and the soft, the yin and the yang, that's what I'd been looking for".
Reed began taking Guang-yi on tour, and the singer eventually recorded the soundtrack and narration for a tai chi DVD. In 2007, Reed released Hudson River Wind Meditations, a collection of songs intended "as an adjunct to meditation [and] tai chi".
"I was completely awestruck [by the operation]," she went on. "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 ... I find certain things about technology truly, deeply inspiring".
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