Vice president's son in Philly hospital after mild stroke
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
PHILADELPHIA -- Vice President Joe Biden's older son, the Delaware attorney general, had a mild stroke Tuesday and was transferred to a Philadelphia hospital, where he was alert and talking with family.
Beau Biden, 41, had been admitted to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., on Tuesday morning. Later in the day he was transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia for observation and further tests, vice presidential spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said.
Biden was expected to recover, his doctor said.
A Christiana Care ambulance arrived at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on Tuesday evening escorted by more than a dozen Delaware and Pennsylvania state police and Philadelphia police cars. Hospital officials declined to comment, referring questions to the vice president's office.
Christiana Hospital's Dr. Timothy Gardner said Biden was in good spirits and was talking with his relatives. The doctor said in a statement issued through the White House that Biden was fully alert and in stable condition and had full motor and speech skills.
Biden's spokesman, Jason Miller, had no immediate comment.
The vice president's office said Gardner would not comment beyond the statement and would not take questions.
"The entire Biden family offers its sincerest thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff of the Christiana Care Health System who have provided tremendous care to Beau today," the statement said.
Biden returned last year from a yearlong deployment to Iraq with his Army National Guard unit. He was a captain and military lawyer in the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade. He had considered running this year for the Senate seat his father held before becoming vice president but decided instead to run for re-election as attorney general.
Joe Biden's wife, Jill Biden, was seen leaving the Delaware hospital. An Associated Press reporter asked how her stepson was doing, but security team members whisked her away before she could respond.
The vice president had traveled to Delaware on Monday afternoon for a scheduled trip. He did a round of morning show interviews from Wilmington on Tuesday morning and was supposed to return to Washington later in the day for his weekly lunch with President Barack Obama and a series of meetings on Afghanistan.
The White House did not respond to questions about whether the vice president was attending.
Democratic Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said he wished Biden the best and declined to comment on how his health might affect the November election.
"Everybody ought to be focused on him getting better," Markell said.
Dr. Cheryl Bushnell, an associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest University medical school in Winston-Salem, N.C., said it was unusual for young patients in good health to suffer strokes.
"It's a lot less common than someone who's, say, 71," Bushnell said.
She said doctors will evaluate factors such as whether Biden had a blood clot, blood vessel injury or signs of his family's history of aneurysms. However, "the reality is in about 30 percent of cases we don't know why this stroke happened," she said.
When Beau Biden announced in January that he wouldn't run for Senate, he said he needed to focus as attorney general on the high-profile criminal case against a pediatrician prosecutors say may have molested more than 100 children over the past decade.
Biden's decision was a surprise, given that his father's longtime confidant and former Senate chief of staff, Ted Kaufman, was appointed to the seat essentially to keep it warm for the son until this year's election.
But longtime Republican Rep. Mike Castle, a two-term governor and one of the most successful politicians in Delaware history, entered the Senate race in October, dramatically increasing the likelihood of a fierce contest.
Beau Biden's decision left the seat his father held for 36 years vulnerable.
The elder Biden was away from that seat for seven months in 1988 after undergoing surgery for brain aneurysms.
More than a decade earlier, in 1972, he lost his wife and infant daughter when a tractor-trailer broadsided their station wagon when they were getting a Christmas tree. Beau and his brother, Hunter, were critically injured but recovered.
The vice president devoted himself to caring for his two sons as a single father and still will not work on Dec. 18, the date it happened. The elder Biden seldom speaks of that day and remains sensitive about his children's welfare.
Beau Biden recalled the accident when introducing his father at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
"I was just short of 4 years old. One of my earliest memories was being in that hospital, Dad always at our side. We, not the Senate, were all he cared about," Biden said.
His father was sworn in to the U.S. Senate at the hospital, at his bedside, he said.
At the convention, the vice president said in return: "Beau, I love you. I am so proud of you. I'm so proud of the son you've become. I'm so proud of the father you are."
Beau Biden, who is married with two young children, has worked as an attorney in private practice. He also worked for the Department of Justice between 1995 and 1997 and as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1997 to 2002.
Associated Press writers Randall Chase in Newark, Del., Ben Nuckols in Baltimore, Brian Witte in Annapolis, Md., and Nafeesa Syeed and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.