Elder Bush out of intensive care, wife Barbara released

Doctors in Houston said they were transferring former US President George H.W. Bush out of intensive care and discharge wife Barbara from the hospital.

The 41st president and former first lady were admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Wednesday. Doctors said George H.W. Bush could be discharged as early as Friday or the weekend. 

The former president, who is 92 years old, was suffering from bacterial pneumonia and was intubated during a 48-hour period to help him breathe. He is now breathing on his own.

Barbara Bush, 91, was hospitalized as a precaution, suffering from viral bronchitis.

Bush physicians Amy Mynderse and Clint Doerr said at a news conference that the two were recovering well, but full recovery could take another week or two.

"X-rays continue to improve, so no obvious re-accumulation of material in his airways that would then again put him behind the eight-ball," Doerr said about the former president, adding that he will need a "fairly aggressive combination of breathing medications" and a full course of antibiotics.

Bush has Parkinson's disease, which has left him in a wheelchair, but doctors said the disease was not a major factor in this latest illness, because he is afflicted with a less-common version of the disease that only affects his lower body.

His advanced age was of greater concern, they said.

"This age group doesn't have as much reserve as a decade ago, let alone 40, 50 years ago. It doesn't take much, from a respiratory standpoint, to get into trouble," Doerr said. 

- 'Therapy for each other' -

Barbara Bush, admitted to hospital as a precaution, was discharged but expected to return to remain by her husband's bedside, where she has been for much of their hospitalization. 

"They really, truly are therapy for each other," Mynderse said. "When she's not there, he's looking for her." 

The former president and first lady have received many messages of support, the doctors said, including from a family who hand-delivered a get-well card. The card is in the former president's hospital room, the doctors said. 

The couple has been surprised by the public concern. Mynderse said that before she headed to the Monday news conference, George H.W. Bush had asked her: "People want to know about me?" 

"They're very grateful for the love that people showed them, and just are extremely humbled and I think a little bit awed by how beloved they are," Mynderse said. 

The elder Bushes were the only former White House residents who did not attend Friday's inauguration of Donald Trump -- because of their declining health. The couple watched the ceremony from the hospital. 

Another former president, their son George W. Bush, was seated on the inaugural platform behind Trump in Washington.

Topics: US , politics , Bush , health
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