WASHINGTON – Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was awake and “feeling well” Tuesday evening after suffering a seizure during a post-inaugural luncheon in honor of President Barack Obama, said a physician who treated him.
Kennedy, 76, who has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments since having surgery for brain cancer last 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 Kerry, D-Mass., who visited him at the hospital, said Kennedy was with his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.
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.
Medical personnel took Kennedy out in a wheelchair, into a room just off the floor of the House, where Kerry and Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Orrin 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.
“He gave me that Irish smile, so I think he’s going to be all right,” Hatch said.
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