Local News

Evangelist Billy Graham Hospitalized

Posted August 18, 2007 1:35 p.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2007 5:09 p.m. EDT

— Evangelist Billy Graham was hospitalized in Asheville for observation and treatment for an intestinal bleed early Saturday. His condition is not life-threatening, said officials at Mission Health & Hospitals.

Doctors said Graham stabilized several hours after he was admitted, and he was listed in fair condition early Saturday afternoon.

Graham, 88, may be released from the hospital in a couple days, Larry Ross, Graham's spokesman, said. He was resting comfortably and was fully conscious and alert while visiting with family members, Ross said.

Graham was admitted for evaluation and treatment of an intestinal bleed at Mission hospital, near his home in Montreat. An endoscopy and a bleeding scan showed no bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, hospital officials said.

"The bleeding is not continuing," Ross said. "It stopped as quickly as it began."

Doctors said the bleeding may have come from diverticuli, small pouches in the lower intestine which can become irritated and bleed. Diverticular bleeds often begin quickly and end on their own, physicians said.

Ross said Graham experienced a similar intestinal bleed during in 1995 crusade in Toronto.

Mission Hospital will release information about Graham's condition per his staff's wishes, said Merrell Gregory, the hospital's communications manager.

Graham, 88, has been a pastor and sometime political adviser to a parade of presidents over the past 50 years. His six-decade career took him around the world to preach to more than 210 million people.

Graham, who suffers from a variety of ailments including Parkinson's disease and age-related macular degeneration, has been largely confined to his western North Carolina home in recent years.

His wife, Ruth Bell Graham, died June 14, 2007, after a 64-year-long marriage. She had been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck.

The ailing Graham surprised mourners at her funeral by rising to talk about his wife, who was his closest confidant.

"I wish you could look in that casket because she's so beautiful," said Graham, clinging to his walker. "She was a wonderful woman."

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