S.D. Sen. Johnson's Condition Improves

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sen. Tim Johnson's condition has been upgraded from critical to fair, four weeks after he was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage, his office said yesterday.

The South Dakota Democrat, who was taken to the hospital Dec. 13 and underwent emergency surgery, remains in intensive care.

"The senator continues to make progress," spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said. "The next step would be rehabilitation, and we hope that would happen within the week."

Johnson's office has said that his recovery is expected to take several months. The surgery was done to correct a condition called arteriovenous malformation, which involves tangled arteries.

His long-term prognosis is unclear. He has responded to his family and physicians, following commands, squeezing his wife's hand and understanding speech.

The senator's illness raised questions about the Democrats' one-vote majority in the Senate. South Dakota's Republican governor, Mike Rounds, would appoint a replacement if Johnson resigned or died.

A Republican appointee would create a 50-50 split and could allow the GOP to retain Senate control because of Vice President Cheney's tiebreaking vote.

-- Associated Press

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