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Billy Graham 'responding well' to pneumonia treatment, doctor says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:43 PM EST, Thu December 1, 2011
Billy Graham celebrated his 93rd birthday on November 7.
Billy Graham celebrated his 93rd birthday on November 7.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Billy Graham has pneumonia, according to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C.
  • NEW: Graham is stable and "responding well to antibiotic treatment," a pulmonologist says
  • The 93-year-old evangelist was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday
  • He is in "good spirits" and resting comfortably, his spokesman says

(CNN) -- Billy Graham is being treated for pneumonia and "is responding well to antibiotic treatment," said a pulmonologist at the North Carolina hospital where the evangelist was admitted Wednesday.

Dr. Mark Hellreich, who is treating Graham at Mission Hospital in Asheville, said Thursday that the 93-year-old is in stable condition, and a spokesman for Graham said he is in "good spirits" and resting comfortably.

Graham spent time reading the Bible and praying with his daughter, Gigi, Wednesday night, spokesman A. Larry Ross said on Twitter.

When Graham was admitted Wednesday for evaluation of his lungs, "he was alert, smiling and waving at hospital staff," the hospital said. "While no date has been set for discharge, Mr. Graham is looking forward to returning home to spend the upcoming Christmas holidays with his family."

Ross said Graham was visited Thursday by his pastor, the Rev. Don Wilton, who shared a passage from the book of Ephesians: "For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."

"Given the outpouring of love and well-wishes Mr. Graham has received from people around the world, the verse seemed to have special meaning to him," Ross said.

Ross said that as Graham and his daughter were channel-surfing to find a news broadcast, they came upon a broadcast of Graham's 1973 crusade in St. Louis.

"It was a blessing to Mr. Graham to realize his preaching still reaches around the world," said Ross, "and even into hospital rooms like his."

Graham was hospitalized in May for treatment of pneumonia. He resumed his ongoing program of physical therapy and normal activity shortly after release, the hospital said.

Graham, a resident of nearby Montreat, has provided counsel to generations of U.S. presidents beginning with Harry S. Truman and is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

The Charlotte native has preached to untold millions over six decades, beginning his missionary work in 1944 when he started speaking at rallies for the Youth for Christ Campus Life ministry. Five years later, Graham was holding crusades in tents in downtown Los Angeles. Originally scheduled for three weeks, the crusades drew so many followers they were extended to seven.

His most recent book, "Nearing Home," was published in October.

Graham's "last crusade" in June 2005 drew a total of 230,000 people.

He described it as his last American crusade, but hedged his farewells during a poignant appearance in Corona Park in Queens, New York.

"We hope to come back again someday," Graham announced. "I was asked in an interview if this was our last crusade and I said it probably is -- in New York. But I also said, 'I never say never.' "

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