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Breaking News

Gerald Ford Hospitalized with Small Strokes

Aired August 2, 2000 - 1:07 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: There's breaking news out of Philadelphia this hour. Former President Gerald Ford, honored last night at this Republican National Convention, has suffered one or perhaps two small strokes.

Let's go to CNN's Pat Neal at the city's Hahnemann University Hospital for the latest -- Pat.

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, former President Gerald Ford is doing very well. Doctors say his condition is good and they say he's doing well after suffering those two small strokes. President and Mrs. Ford walked into this hospital about 9:00 a.m. this morning Eastern time, in downtown Philadelphia. Doctors say he was complaining that he was having some problems with his balance. They say now he is perfectly awake. He has all normal functions and his doctor, Dr. Robert Schwartzman, described his condition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: President Ford has had a small stroke. It is in the circulation at the base of the brain. He's doing well. A little trouble with his balance and presently is being studied for the cause of his stroke.

QUESTION: Any affects of the stroke?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: He is having a little bit of trouble with his balance at the moment.

QUESTION: Any weakness?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: A little bit of weakness in the left arm. His thinking is perfect, no problem with that.

QUESTION: How long do you expect him to be in the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Probably in the hospital five or six days. His condition is very good. He's stable right now. He is undergoing testing.

QUESTION: Do you think he will remain here, doctor?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: He will be here probably for five days or so, yes. QUESTION: Can he speak, doctor?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Yes, can he.

QUESTION: What does he say?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: He's perfectly awake. His normal function, mentally that's not a problem. He is a little unbalanced, a little weakness in his left arm.

QUESTION: And his legs as well?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: No, legs are normal.

QUESTION: How is Mrs. Ford?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: She's very upset, but fine.

QUESTION: What is his prognosis?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: He probably had a little stroke a day or so ago.

QUESTION: A little weak in his left arm, right?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: I don't think so.

QUESTION: What is his attitude, sir?

What was he complaining about this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: He was again off balance, and difficulty with his speech.

QUESTION: Doctor, do you think he had the stroke in between the time he was here before and came back...

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: No, I think he probably had a stroke maybe two days ago, and had another little one.

QUESTION: Another one today?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Probably, yes.

QUESTION: Why didn't you catch it earlier?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Well, it looks like an inner-ear infection sometimes, and it is sometimes hard to tell the difference? and he may be a little worse now than he was before, so that's understandable.

QUESTION: What's his prognosis?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Good.

QUESTION: You think he will be fine?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: I think he will do very well.

QUESTION: Will he survive this?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Yes.

QUESTION: Will he have any disabilities?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: No, I think he'll do very well. I think he's going to have to be on medication, but he should do very well, should really recover.

QUESTION: Will he have any brain damage?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Sorry?

QUESTION: Is there any brain damage?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: No, I don't think so. I think this will all clear. It's mainly in his balance center, mainly in the back of the brain.

QUESTION: So it hasn't affected his speech? He can speak properly?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: He understands everything. His words are a little bit slurred, but that should all recover, too.

QUESTION: What is his attitude about this? Is he very upset?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: No, he's very calm.

QUESTION: But Mrs. Ford is not?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Mrs. Ford is very calm, too, but she's just upset like anybody.

QUESTION: What has she said to you?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Just take care of him.

QUESTION: And are you going to?

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: We are.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: This is somebody else's experts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEAL: Ford was honored at the Republican National Convention last night. From the convention he came here to the Hahnemann Hospital about 1:30 in the morning where he was complaining about an ear ache. He was treated with antibiotics, and he was released about an hour later.

When we asked doctors about why the stroke wasn't diagnosed then when he came in, the doctors explained that ear infections can often cause people to feel off-balance and sometimes they are difficult to determine.

To recap, he is in good condition after suffering those two small strokes, he has some slurred speech, but he's expected to have a full recovery -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Pat Neal, outside the hospital, thank you Pat.

And we are joined now by Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to talk about her friendship with former President Ford.

President Ford named you to your first federal post.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Exactly, he appointed me vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board when I was 32 years old and he's been my friend ever since.

ALLEN: You certainly have a place in your heart for him, then, helping you out.

HUTCHISON: I do.

ALLEN: The good news is is that he's in good condition. He walked to the hospital. But it certainly throws a bit of sadness over what was -- what has been an overall positive week for the Republicans. Tell us about Mr. Ford, because you just saw him July 4.

How was he then?

HUTCHISON: Yes, I was with him July 4 in Beaver Creek, Colorado. And, you know, he's disarming, because he's so vigorous and so outgoing and so friendly. He had a full day of schedules, there was the Betty Ford Garden dedication and then the Colorado Symphony. He's just so active that you don't think the man is 87 years old.

And, of course, I just am praying for his recovery, as we all are, and the tribute to him last night was absolutely wonderful. And I hope that Betty is watching and she knows that all of us love her and are thinking of both of them right now.

ALLEN: So he stays very busy still.

HUTCHISON: Oh, very much so, of course, he has a lot of grandchildren that he loves to be around. And he plays golf and he's just -- you don't think he's 87 and he needs to be quiet. And he doesn't think so either. And so he's just out there doing things.

And, you know, he's still so community active. He does so much for Beaver Creek Colorado. And he goes back to his library in Michigan, I've seen him there. I've participated in a women's forum that he did. It was two days and he was there every minute of every day. So he's just always going the extra mile and doing his fair share. And I just can't imagine that anything has happened to him.

ALLEN: Yes, he was here very late last night as well. Everyone keeps late hours when they're at a convention. It's such a go-go time. Has he had, do you know, any serious health problems of late?

HUTCHISON: I was not aware of anything, just the little things. He told me that he had stopped skiing because he wanted to keep playing golf, those kinds of things. But those are just regular things. I didn't know that he was having any kind of health problems and he would never let on.

But the thing that just impresses me so is that he would keep up a schedule and he's so loyal to his friends, always helping people like me when I'm running for the United States Senate. He called me just the week before July 4 just to say that he was going to miss a function that I was having. But he would see me on the fourth, just those little things that are so thoughtful and so extra that make him so very special.

ALLEN: It does sound like he's just as vigorous as we all remember when he was president, being a very active male. We'll have to wait and see what doctor's orders are after he recovers in the hospital.

HUTCHISON: Well, we'll all be pulling for him and for Betty.

ALLEN: Certainly, thank you, Senator Hutchison.

HUTCHISON: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: We'll see you.

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