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Lilly CEO Lechleiter Has Surgery to Repair Heart

Eli Lilly & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Lechleiter underwent a scheduled surgery yesterday for a heart defect and the repair to the aorta is functioning as intended, the drugmaker said.

Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice has been filling in as CEO while Lechleiter recuperates, the Indianapolis-based company said today in a statement.

Lilly said on May 6 that Lechleiter would undergo an operation to correct a dilated aorta. The condition, which wasn’t causing any symptoms, occurs when there is a bulge or ballooning of the larger artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and abdomen, according to the National Institutes of Health. Lechleiter’s condition was found during an unrelated test, the company had said.

“Dr. Lechleiter’s surgeons have advised us that surgery went as expected,” said Kristine A. Courtney, senior director of Lilly’s corporate health services. “Dr. Lechleiter is recovering and will be closely monitored by the medical staff over the next several days.”

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