Veteran soul balladeer Luther Vandross, described as barely conscious two weeks after suffering a stroke, has undergone a tracheotomy to fight off pneumonia, according to his business manager. The pro

Veteran soul balladeer Luther Vandross, described as barely conscious two weeks after suffering a stroke, has undergone a tracheotomy to fight off pneumonia, according to his business manager. The procedure was done in a way that did not affect the singer's vocal chords. Vandross remains in intensive care at Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

In a statement, his business manager Carmen Romano said that doctors reported Vandross was minimally responsive and "we're waiting for him to regain full consciousness. I am told that this may take some time." Romano said the family and friends of Vandross appreciate the "tremendous outpouring of well wishes and prayers" received from his fans.

Vandross, who has battled weight and health problems for years, suffered a stroke on April 16, just days before turning 52.

COPYRIGHT: (c) Reuters 2003. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.