F1 legend Niki Lauda undergoes successful lung transplant

Niki Lauda
Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda has undergone a lung transplant following an infection picked up on vacation. AFP
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Vienna: Three-time Formula One (F1) world champion Niki Lauda has undergone a lung transplant following an infection picked up on vacation, Vienna's general hospital announced Thursday.

"The transplant was successfully carried out," said a brief statement from the hospital.

Lauda, 69, had cut short his vacation in Ibiza last week and returned to Vienna after developing a lung infection, the Osterreich newspaper reported.

Crowned world champion for the first time in 1975, Lauda cheated death the following year in a horror crash at the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring which left him with severe burns.

Despite that, he would still capture further world titles in 1977 and 1984.

The poisonous gases inhaled during his 1976 accident -- where rescuers took almost a minute to pull him from his burning car -- have caused a steady decline in the strength of his lungs.

Usually a regular presence in the Grand Prix paddocks around the world with Mercedes, Lauda had missed the Hockenheim race on July 22 and the Hungary event last Sunday because of his illness.

Lauda, who also required kidney transplants in 1997 and 2005, is the father of four children from two marriages -- Lukas (39), Mathias (37) and eight-year-old twins Max and Mia.

Lauda is still heavily involved in Formula One as non-executive president of world champions Mercedes and also once founded his own airline.

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