April 18, 2010 in Nation/World

LBJ’s youngest daughter may have Guillain-Barre

Linda Stewart Ball Associated Press

(Full-size photo)

DALLAS – Luci Baines Johnson, the youngest daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, is being treated at the Mayo Clinic for what doctors suspect is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system, her personal physician said Saturday.

Johnson, 62, who was flown by air ambulance to the clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Friday, remained in the neuro-intensive care unit, said Dr. Dudley Youman.

Initially, Johnson was admitted to a hospital in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday after experiencing “extreme weakness” in her arms and legs, Youman said.

He said Johnson had a mild viral illness preceding this, a sore throat and hoarseness that probably was related because “in the vast majority of cases” the disorder follows a viral illness.

“She had been in excellent health prior to that, with no medical issue of this type,” Youman said. “It was sudden onset.”

Youman said he and other doctors suspect Guillain-Barre syndrome, which affects the nerves that control movement and can cause paralysis.

After running extensive tests at the Texas hospital earlier in the week, Youman said doctors decided it best to move her.

Testing continues, and Johnson is being closely watched and undergoing intravenous gamma globulin treatment. Her doctor said that may blunt her body’s aberrant immune response to the virus that is causing the nerve damage.

Family spokesman Tom Johnson, who is not related to Luci Johnson, said her husband, Ian Turpin, her four children, and her sister, Lynda Johnson Robb, were among those with her at the hospital.

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