Indiana Governor Suffers Brain Damage
- Indiana Governor Suffers Brain Damage
The Associated Press
September 9, 2003
CHICAGO (AP) -- Doctors saw some evidence of brain damage in Indiana
Gov. Frank O'Bannon, a hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday, a day
after O'Bannon suffered a massive stroke.
With the 73-year-old governor in a drug-induced coma and on a
ventilator, doctors said Monday that the next day or two would be
Northwestern Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Kelly Sullivan said
Tuesday that doctors saw reflex movement that indicates brain
damage. ``It's too soon to tell exactly the extent of the damage,''
``This is up to Mother Nature and his own ability to bounce back,
his own brain's ability to recover,'' Dr. Hunt Batjer, chairman of
neurological surgery at Northwestern, said earlier.
Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan assumed O'Bannon's duties as acting governor.
``I would just ask all Hoosiers to join hands and say a prayer,'' he
And Indiana's first lady thanked residents for their support.
``We have often said there is no limit to where we can go when we go
together,'' Judy O'Bannon said in a statement. ``Words cannot
describe the comfort we feel from the people of Indiana and beyond
and we truly feel we are on this journey together.''
O'Bannon, a Democrat in his second term, was found Monday morning on
the floor of his Chicago hotel room in his pajamas. He was
unconscious and near death when he was rushed to the hospital,
doctors said. He remained in critical condition midmorning Tuesday.
O'Bannon suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, a type of stroke caused by
bleeding in the brain. Pressure on the brain is a major complication
of such an injury and patients are often placed in drug-induced
comas to help relieve the pressure and allow the brain to rest and
O'Bannon is expected to remain under the sedation for at least
several days, Sullivan said.
Dr. Wesley Yapor said surgeons removed blood from both sides of
O'Bannon's brain during three hours of surgery Monday. Some of the
bleeding probably came from an injury, suggesting that the governor
fell after becoming ill, he said. Sullivan said the surgery was
Doctors said it was too early to predict the likelihood of O'Bannon
fully recovering. The outcome depends on how much bleeding occurs,
how much of the brain is affected, and how long the patient goes
Strokes are the nation's leading cause of disability in the United
States and the No. 3 killer. Most are ischemic strokes, caused when
arteries feeding the brain are blocked, but some are caused by
bleeding in the brain. Survivors often suffer permanent disability
including paralysis and loss of speech.
O'Bannon was staying at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago to attend
a conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association.
Kernan became acting governor under a provision in the state
constitution that allows him to temporarily carry on business
without a formal transfer of power.
State officials said Tuesday they believe the formal transfer, which
requires a petition from legislative leaders and state Supreme Court
approval, would be needed if O'Bannon was never able to return to
In his seven years as governor, O'Bannon, a moderate known for
grandfatherly charm, has forged alliances to reform education and
try to improve the state's economy.
The governor coasted to re-election in 2000, but his popularity
began to slide in his second term as the economy faltered. He is
barred by term limits from running again next year.
``It will be a real shock if he doesn't recover,'' said Kim Self,
sales manager at Magdalena's Restaurant & Gourmet Gift Shop in the
southern town of Corydon, O'Bannon's home.
The last time Indiana had an acting governor for any length of time
was in 1924, when the incumbent, Gov. Warren McCray, was forced to
resign after being convicted of mail fraud.