Barcelona star Abidal needs new liver
March 16, 2012 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
Barcelona defender Eric Abidal, who needs a liver transplant, is battling to overcome his second serious health scare in just over a year.
- Barcelona defender Eric Abidal to have surgery to replace liver in coming weeks
- French international had surgery to remove a tumor on his liver last March
- Abidal should be able to play top-level football again if surgery is successful, says U.S. transplant surgeon
(CNN) -- Barcelona defender Eric Abidal is to undergo surgery to replace his liver, according to a statement released on the Spanish club's website on Thursday.
"During the next few weeks, the player will undergo a liver transplant as a result of the progress of his liver disease," the statement said.
"A transplant was considered an option from the start of his treatment a year ago. At the express wishes of the player, the Club asks that the maximum respect for the player's privacy be observed."
The 32-year-old Frenchman underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his liver last March, but recovered in time to appear in the Champions League final against Manchester United two months later.
He's so strong as he showed last season and I'm sure he'll show that again now
Carles Puyol, Barcelona club captain
Barcelona club captain Carles Puyol described the news of Abibal's impending surgery as "a heavy blow" at a press conference Thursday.
"It was an unpleasant surprise. Eric was there with us and afterwards we spoke with him, but what we said will be staying amongst ourselves," Puyol said, FCBarcelona.com reported.
"It's really him who has lifted us -- he's so strong as he showed last season and I'm sure he'll show that again now...things like this bring us all closer together."
Dr Stuart Knechtle, a liver transplant specialist from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, says Abidal has a good chance of returning to top-level football in the future.
"Assuming it all goes well, he should be able to compete. There are other examples of athletes that have competed at international level after liver transplantation," Knechtle told CNN's World Sport.
Knechtle highlighted the cases of Chris Klug, a U.S. Olympic snowboarder who competed after his liver transplant in 2000 and former NBA star Alonzo Mourning who also returned to action after a kidney transplant in 2003.
The transplant is a highly complex procedure which will require intensive medical care, says Knechtle, but after an initial recovery period Abidal should be able to recover his strength.
"He will need to take medication twice a day for the rest of his life. He will, especially in the early period, require multiple doctor's visits, but that should gradually taper off over time."
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
Today's five most popular stories