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American Who Set Off TB Scare Apologizes, Lung Surgery an Option for Him

The 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer who has riveted the attention of the entire US media for a few days now has profusely apologized for unwittingly exposing fellow air passengers to a much feared strain of TB.

Meanwhile his doctors are holding up the possibility of surgically removing the infected tissue from his lung.

"I've lived in this state of constant fear and anxiety and exhaustion for a week now, and to think that someone else is now feeling that, I wouldn't want anyone to feel that way. It's awful," Andrew Speaker, speaking through a face mask, told ABC's "Good Morning America" from his hospital room in Denver.

"I don't expect those people to ever forgive me. I just hope they understand that I truly never meant them any harm," he added, his voice cracking.

Speaker was told he had TB in January, but doctors did not realise that his strain, known as XDR-TB, was extensively drug-resistant until May. He then boarded a commercial flight to Paris on May 12, and another to Greece for his wedding and Italy for his honeymoon.

On May 18, officials told him they would prefer he didn't fly, but no one ordered him not to, he said. Speaker said his father, also a lawyer, taped that meeting.

"My father said, 'OK, now are you saying, prefer not to go on the trip because he's a risk to anybody, or are you simply saying that to cover yourself?' And they said, 'We have to tell you that to cover ourself, but he's not a risk,'" Speaker said.

"I never would have put my family at risk, and my daughter at risk. I repeatedly asked my doctors, 'Is my family at risk? Is anybody at risk of this?'" he said.

Speaker was in Europe when he learned tests showed he had not just TB, but an especially dangerous, extensively drug-resistant strain.

And despite a specific warning the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention not to fly on commercial planes, he chose to take a commercial a flight to Mo
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