Sen. Kirk released after gall bladder surgery

A spokesperson for Illinois' GOP senator confirms Mark Kirk underwent gall bladder surgery Monday.
December 11, 2013 10:02:58 AM PST
Following a Saturday hospitalization and Monday morning surgery to remove his gallbladder, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was discharged on Tuesday from Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

"It's good to be home," Kirk, who lives in Highland Park, tweeted. "Thank you for the well wishes and special thanks to the stellar team at NW Lake Forest Hospital for their great care."

A statement from Kirk's office says on Saturday morning Kirk went to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital with stomach pains. Doctors determined that, due to the fact that he had gall stones, his gall bladder needed to be removed, the release said.

Kirk underwent a successful surgery to have his gall bladder removed Monday and is "resting comfortably," the statement said, adding that doctors expect a quick recovery.

According to Kim Sobinsky, MD, FACS, a Northwestern Medicine general surgeon at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, "Senator Mark Kirk underwent a laparascopic cholecystectomy, which is a minimally invasive procedure to remove the gall bladder. The procedure took 30 minutes and went as planned without any complications."

"Patients who undergo this procedure typically are up and about within a day and fully recovered in approximately two to three weeks," Sobinsky said. "About 10 percent of the time, there are no stones and the gall bladder is inflamed for other reasons. The procedure is performed about 600,000-700,000 times a year in the United States, so it is a common procedure. The gall bladder is not an essential organ, and patients can live a normal life without it. Senator Kirk's lifestyle will not be changed by this procedure."

Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January of 2012, delivered his first Senate floor speech, seated at a desk, last month for the first time since that health setback. After his stroke, he was taken to the same hospital over a weekend, with no announcement made until that Monday.

The 54-year-old, first-term Republican was partially paralyzed on his left side by the stroke, which did not affect his cognitive abilities. He uses a wheelchair and cane to aid his mobility, which has steadily improved during the past 23 months.

A doctor at Rush University Medical Center said gallstones are unrelated to strokes and quite common in a person Senator Kirk's age.

The hospitalization and surgery happened within two weeks after Senator Kirk toured tornado damage in Washington, illinois, perhaps his most strenuous outing since his stroke.

During a Willis Tower stair climb last month, Kirk credited the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for his ability to participate. The Illinois senator used the event to focus attention on the need for stroke patients to get equal access to high-quality rehabilitation, so they too can return to work.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.


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