Thailand king Bhumibol Adulyadej 'getting better' after gall bladder surgery

A well-wisher takes a picture of Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok on Oct 8, 2014. The world's longest-serving monarch was "getting better" after a gall bladder operation following his emergency hospit
A well-wisher takes a picture of Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok on Oct 8, 2014. The world's longest-serving monarch was "getting better" after a gall bladder operation following his emergency hospital admission last week, the palace said on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (AFP) - Revered Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving monarch, was "getting better" after a gall bladder operation following his emergency hospital admission last week, the palace said on Wednesday.

The 86-year-old king, who has suffered from a series of ailments in recent years, is treated as a near deity in Thailand and his health is a subject of public concern.

Late on Friday he was driven from his coastal palace in Hua Hin to Bangkok's Siriraj hospital with a fever, undergoing an operation to remove his gall bladder two days later after tests revealed the organ was swollen.

Doctors reported Wednesday that the king's condition was "getting better", the Royal Household Bureau said in a statement.

"His temperature has dropped almost to normal, his heartbeat is normal and pain around the surgery area is decreasing," it said, adding that the king had started to eat some food and was now on a lower dose of painkillers.

Bhumibol, who is officially King Rama IX, left the Siriraj last month after a stay of almost six weeks for a check-up.

He lived in the same hospital for nearly four years after being admitted with respiratory problems in 2009 - but there was no explanation from the palace over his prolonged stay.

Born on December 5, 1927 in the United States, Bhumibol came to the throne aged 18 in 1946 - crowned four years later after finishing his studies in Switzerland.

The king has no official political role, but Thais see him as a unifying figure in politically volatile Thailand, which has seen 19 failed or attempted coups since an absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932.