Surgery could play role in Jackson, Jr.'s condition

July 28, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has taken a leave of absence from congress, and little has been revealed about his condition, or when he might be back on the job.

The elder Jackson Saturday said it was six months ago that his family discovered the congressman wasn't well. But he deferred all other medical-related questions to his son's doctors at the Mayo Clinic.

"He's regaining his strength. And we hope he'll regain all of it," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Saturday, the congressman's father and brother offered few details about his condition.

"He's had tremendous improvement, and we're thankful for that," said the congressman's brother, Jonathon Jackson. "All the people who have called in, sent us flowers and cards, I'd like to say thank you to them personally."

It was late Friday night, as much of the country was basking in Olympic glory. that the Mayo Clinic announced in a press release that it was treating the nine-term congressman for depression.

The hospital said Jackson, who underwent weight loss surgery in 2004, was also being treated for gastrointestinal issues.

Saturday, a bariatric surgeon said that 80 percent of patients who undergo the procedure have a history of depression.

"A lot of times there's improvement, but sometimes there's not, and you see continued depression or even worsening depression," said Dr. Woody Denham of NorthShore University HealthSystem.

The Mayo Clinic announcement comes two weeks after Jackson's office said he was suffering from a mood disorder and more than seven weeks after he went on leave for what was initially described as exhaustion.

"Anyone who is in recovery, it's our duty as fellow citizens and neighbors to say a prayer," said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

"I wish him a speedy recovery," said US Rep. Luis Gutierrez. "I'm happy that many people now know, including his friends and his allies, so that we can know what to pray for."

The congressman's whereabouts weren't officially known until Friday night, though the Mayo Clinic didn't say when he arrived.

"He needs to have some public press event with credible people if he's not able to be there himself," said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington, "and tell the public a little more about his condition and what the expectations are for his recovery."

Saturday, Jackson's republican opponent in November raised questions.

"I hope he heals," Brian Woodworth said. "I hope he gets the treatment that he needs, but why did it take four press releases to come to this? Usually depression isn't something that requires two months to diagnose."

The Mayo Clinic's three-sentence press release offered no timeline for Jackson's return. Neither has the congressman's staff.

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