Hat Tip: By DAVID ESPO and GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was airlifted to a hospital Saturday after suffering a seizure at his home, and did not appear to have had a stroke as initially suspected, his spokeswoman said.
The 76-year-old Democrat, the lone surviving son in a famed political family, was undergoing tests at Massachusetts General Hospital to determine the cause of the seizure, spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said.
“Senator Kennedy is resting comfortably, and it is unlikely we will know anything more for the next 48 hours,” she said.
Kennedy went to Cape Cod Hospital on Saturday morning “after feeling ill at his home,” Cutter said. After discussion with his doctors in Boston, Kennedy was taken to Massachusetts General.
An official who declined to be identified by name, citing the sensitivity of the events, had earlier said that Kennedy had stroke-like symptoms. The hospital declined to comment on his condition.
In October, Kennedy had surgery to repair a nearly complete blockage in a major neck artery. The discovery was made during a routine examination of a decades-old back injury.
The hourlong procedure on his left carotid artery — a main supplier of blood to the face and brain — was performed at Massachusetts General. This type of operation is performed on more than 180,000 people a year to prevent a stroke.
The doctor who operated on Kennedy said at the time that surgery is reserved for those with more than 70 percent blockage, and Kennedy had “a very high-grade blockage.”
On Saturday, Hyannis Fire Lt. Bill Rex said a 911 call came in from the Kennedy family compound at 8:19 a.m. A man was transported to Cape Cod Hospital and transferred by air at 10:10 a.m. from Barnstable Municipal Airport to Boston.
David Reilly, a spokesman for Cape Cod Hospital, said that Kennedy was brought to the hospital around 9 a.m. and stayed for about an hour before being flown by helicopter to the Boston hospital.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts did not talk to reporters when he arrived at the hospital shortly after 1 p.m.
Kerry later issued a statement, saying that Kennedy “been a fighter who has overcome adversity again and again with courage, grit, and determination. Teresa and I are praying” for Kennedy’s family.
“We know that everyone in Massachusetts and people throughout the nation pray for a full and speedy recovery for a man whose life’s work has touched millions upon millions of lives,” the statement said.
Kennedy, 76, has been in the Senate since election in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy is the lone surviving son in a famed family. His eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash. President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother Robert was assassinated in 1968.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, beginning a tour of hospitals in Eugene, Ore., told reporters that he had been in touch with the senator’s family.
“Ted Kennedy is a giant in American political history. He’s done more for health care than just about anybody in history. We are going to be rooting for him. I insist on being optimistic about how it’s going to turn out,” he said.
Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, New York. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also issued a statement.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Ted Kennedy and his family today,” she said. “We all wish him well and a quick recovery.”
Kennedy gave Obama’s presidential campaign a big boost this year with his endorsement and has campaigned actively for the Illinois senator.