BOZEMAN — The embattled author of "Three Cups of Tea" has undergone open-heart surgery nearly two months after reports questioned the accuracy of the book and whether he benefited from the charity he founded, the charity's spokeswoman said.
Doctors discovered an aneurysm, in addition to a hole, in Greg Mortenson's heart that had left him with low oxygen levels, Central Asia Institute acting director Anne Beyersdorfer said. Surgeons repaired the hole and tied down the aneurysm, she added.
"We feel very fortunate it did not burst or throw a clot," Beyersdorfer said.
She told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that the operation took place last week but she declined to say where it was performed or where Mortenson was recuperating. She said he expected to eventually return to his Bozeman home for a recovery that could take weeks or months.
Mortenson entered a Bozeman hospital after the reports surfaced in April alleged he lied about events in his best-selling book. The reports from "60 Minutes" and author Jon Krakauer also questioned whether Mortenson financially benefited from the institute and whether CAI built the number of schools in it claimed.
Last month, two Montana lawmakers filed a lawsuit against Mortenson, claiming they were duped into buying the book and donating to his charity based on lies.
They are trying to get class-action status for the lawsuit so it can be joined by the millions of people who bought Mortenson's books, heard his speeches or donated to his charity.
Beyersdorfer said CAI has hired attorneys for the civil suit, but declined to name the firm.
Beyersdorfer said donations continue to come in and that CAI is focusing on building more schools overseas this year.
"There is a large population of CAI supporters who have not lost faith," she said.