Barbara Bush in good condition after heart surgery

HOUSTON - Former first lady Barbara Bush was in good condition and resting comfortably Thursday following 2 1/2-hour heart surgery to replace her aortic valve, a hospital official said.

Mrs. Bush, 83, was being monitored in the intensive care unit at The Methodist Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Gale Smith said.

Family spokesman Jim McGrath said Mrs. Bush was up and talking Wednesday night in intensive care hours after the surgery earlier in the day. He said Thursday: "Everything's status quo. She continues to recover, and everybody's pleased with her progress."

The surgery was scheduled last week after Mrs. Bush experienced a shortness of breath, McGrath said. He said doctors determined the aortic valve had started to harden.

Dr. Gerald Lawrie, the heart surgeon at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center who performed the surgery, said the operation went "extremely well."

"I expect her to recover fully and soon resume her normal activities," Lawrie said.

Former President George H.W. Bush was at the hospital with his wife, McGrath said.

"I am very impressed with and grateful to the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at The Methodist Hospital who have helped Barbara," the former president said. "We have every confidence she is in the best hands."

The hospital said the former first lady was expected to be released in seven to 10 days.

Replacement valves are either manmade or made from living tissue from human or animal sources. The hospital said Mrs. Bush received a tissue valve but didn't specify the source.

When left untreated, a hardened aortic valve can result in heart failure or sudden cardiac death, the hospital said. The valve, on the left side of the heart, can harden with age and become less effective. Symptoms of aortic valve disease include shortness of breath, chest pains and dizziness.

Houston television station KRTK reported that Mrs. Bush almost didn't want her children to know about the surgery because she didn't think it was a big deal. She is the mother of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The other Bush children are sons Neil and Marvin and daughter Dorothy.

Barbara Bush underwent surgery in November for a perforated ulcer. The hospital said the two were unrelated.

The former Barbara Pierce, daughter of the publisher of McCall's magazine, married George H.W. Bush in 1945 when he returned a hero from World War II.

They had their first child, George, while still at Yale in 1946. A daughter, Robin, died in 1953 of leukemia a few weeks before her 4th birthday.

Barbara Bush disclosed she was suffering from an overactive thyroid ailment known as Graves' disease when she lived at the White House. The disease causes teary eyes and double vision, according to her doctors.


On the Net: