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Kennedy Recovering After Having Seizure at Obama Luncheon

Posted by tothewire on January 21, 2009

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Doctors Blame Exhaustion and Not His Cancer

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Doctors Blame Exhaustion and Not His Cancer


Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) was awake and “feeling well” yesterday evening after suffering a seizure during a post-inaugural luncheon in honor of President Obama, said a physician who treated him.


Kennedy, who has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments since having surgery for brain cancer in June, was rushed from the Capitol by ambulance after he began shaking and convulsing at the luncheon, according to lawmakers and Senate staff members who were present. He was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where doctors said they thought the seizure was caused by exhaustion.

“After testing, we believe the incident was brought on by simple fatigue. Senator Kennedy is awake, talking with family and friends and feeling well,” Edward Aulisi, chairman of the hospital’s neurosurgery division, said in a statement.

Hospital officials said they planned to release Kennedy this morning.

A hospital spokeswoman said Obama had called to check on him, but she didn’t think Obama had spoken to him directly.  Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who visited Kennedy at the hospital, said the ailing lawmaker was with his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and son  Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.).

As Kennedy’s condition became apparent to the luncheon guests, Obama, whose bid for president received a major boost a year ago when Kennedy endorsed him, left the head table and joined several of Kennedy’s closest Senate friends, who tended to him along with a medical staff.

After Kennedy, 76, was taken from the room, Obama told the assembled crowd of more than 200 of the nation’s most powerful politicians that Kennedy has been a “warrior for justice” in his 46-year career in the Senate. Obama noted that Kennedy helped pass landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s that helped make Obama’s own ascent possible.

“I would be lying to you if I did not say that right now a part of me is with him,” Obama added. “And I think that’s true for all of us. This is a joyous time. But it’s also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family.”

The seizure cast a somber tone over the usually festive luncheon, held every four years in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall after the swearing-in ceremony.

Teresa Heinz Kerry told reporters that her husband and Vicki Kennedy held the senator down to try to keep him from injuring himself before medical personnel arrived. Sen. Kerry said that Kennedy’s deteriorating health became of such concern that  Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), 91 and in declining health, became despondent and left the room.

 Sen. Daniel Inouye, 84, who was sitting at the same table as Kennedy and Byrd, said he saw no warning signs before Kennedy’s seizure. “We were chatting away, he was in a happy mood, regaling us with jokes,” Inouye (D-Hawaii) said.

Medical personnel took Kennedy out in a wheelchair, into a room just off the floor of the House, where Kerry and  Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and  Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) gathered around and then helped him into the ambulance. The senators told reporters afterward that Kennedy was conscious the entire time and spoke to them.

become an emotional touchstone for Democrats in recent months.

His tumor, a malignant glioma, is a common and often lethal form of brain cancer. It was discovered after a May 17 seizure at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., on Cape Cod. The tumor is in his brain’s left parietal lobe, which is involved in speech, sensation and motor control.

After his June 2 surgery at Duke University Medical Center, Kennedy spent the summer and fall on Cape Cod while receiving treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He briefly returned to the chamber in early July to give Democrats a much-needed vote to pass Medicare pricing legislation. He received a standing ovation upon entering the chamber and, realizing the legislation was on the verge of being approved, nine Republicans switched their votes to side with Kennedy.

Kennedy made another surprise appearance in August, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Since Obama selected Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as his secretary of state, members of the Kennedy clan have lobbied to have Kennedy’s niece, Caroline Kennedy, also an ardent Obama supporter, succeed Clinton in the Senate.

Medical experts have said most patients with malignant gliomas do not survive more than a year or two after diagnosis, although the operation may have been successful enough to add several years to that prognosis.

His friends said that Kennedy remained in good spirits yesterday, even as he was in obvious pain, making jokes to them and telling them not to fuss about it.

“When he bellows, he’s usually in pretty good shape,” Dodd said.

By Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray

Washington Post Staff Writers

Staff writer Steve Vogel contributed to this report.

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more about “Sen. Kennedy Suffers Apparent Seizure…“, posted with vodpod

4 Responses to “Kennedy Recovering After Having Seizure at Obama Luncheon”

  1. dorian9 said

    such a hard-working and dedicated senator. i hope this family patriarch gets through this okay. he looked so happy in the inauguration. i like the hat!


  2. Lawman2 said

    he did look happy didn’t he?i enjoyed watching everyone.


  3. tothewire said

    video isn’t playing on here…Too bad! It was great!


  4. american cancer research…

    News And Notes! How……


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