Rep. Murtha's condition improves to stable

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WASHINGTON -- After facing what appeared to be dire circumstances over the weekend from gallbladder surgery complications, U.S. Rep. John Murtha's condition has stabilized.

The Johnstown Democrat, 77, remained in the intensive care unit of an Arlington, Va., hospital Wednesday, where spokesman Matt Mazonkey said his condition was stable.

With his usual spot unoccupied in the back corner of the U.S. House chamber, members of the Pennsylvania delegation expressed concern about their colleague's health but were optimistic about his return.

"I hear he is over the hump and it is going good," said Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Luzerne, a longtime friend of Mr. Murtha.

Mr. Murtha had laparoscopic surgery to remove his gallbladder last Thursday at the National Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md. A source close to Mr. Murtha said that his intestine was inadvertently cut during the surgery, confirming a report from Politico.

Mr. Murtha went home after the surgery but an infection developed, the source said, and Mr. Murtha was admitted Sunday to the Virginia Hospital Center. Mr. Murtha underwent surgery to treat the infection, and the source said that for a time things appeared to be "touch and go."

But by Wednesday, Mr. Murtha seemed to be responding well to antibiotics and improving, the source said.

Still, the source added, it could be several weeks before Mr. Murtha is able to return to the House, where he chairs the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on defense.

Mr. Murtha, who came to Washington in 1974, is scheduled on Friday to become the longest serving Congressman in Pennsylvania history, passing Scranton Republican Joe McDade.


Daniel Malloy: dmalloy@post-gazette.com or 202-445-9980. Follow him on Twitter at PG_in_DC.


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