LYNCHBURG, Va., March 30 -- The medical condition of Rev. Jerry Falwell was upgraded Wednesday to serious but stable, his physician said, two days after the Moral Majority founder fell unconscious on the way to the hospital.
Falwell, 71, was alert and was expected to make a full recovery, said Joseph B. Khoury, a pulmonary critical care specialist at Lynchburg General Hospital.
Contradicting earlier reports about Falwell's condition, Khoury said the Baptist preacher does not have pneumonia and did not suffer a heart attack. He said, however, that Falwell had fluid in his lungs when he was admitted to the hospital late Monday.
Doctors are now trying to determine what caused the accumulation of fluid, Khoury said.
He said Falwell's ventilation tube was removed this morning and that attending physicians said he was alert and speaking. He was still in the intensive care unit this morning.
"His heart is strong," Khoury said. "It shows no sign of injury or weakness." He said that in addition to investigating what caused the fluid, doctors are checking to see whether Falwell has any coronary heart disease that was not previously detected.
Falwell recently spent nearly two weeks in the hospital, part of that time on a ventilator, before being discharged on March 4. He was reported at the time to be battling viral pneumonia.
A spokesman for Falwell, Ron Godwin, said Falwell had been trying to take it easy since leaving the hospital but had stepped up his schedule in recent days. On Easter Sunday, Godwin said, Falwell presided over two services at Thomas Road Baptist Church, where he is the senior pastor for a congregation of about 24,000.
Because of his latest hospitalization, Falwell missed his usual Wednesday convocation speech at Liberty University, a Christian evangelical institution he founded in 1971.