Posted: March 10, 2003


By Celia Cohen

Grapevine Political Writer

U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. had emergency surgery Sunday morning to remove his gall bladder during what was supposed to be a weekend getaway in Florida, his office said Monday.

Biden already was out of the hospital by Monday and staying with a relative in Ft. Myers in Southwest Florida, according to Norman J. Kurz, the communications director for the six-term Democrat.

"The surgery was routine and uncomplicated," Kurz said. "He's resting comfortably."

Biden, 60, left Friday to take a three-day break with his wife Jill and daughter Ashley, Kurz said. He experienced abdominal pain on Saturday and had microscopic surgery about 24 hours later to remove his gall bladder, an organ near the liver for storing bile.

Biden is expected to miss this week in the Senate but to recover quickly. "He's a healthy guy. He's pretty fit, and he doesn't have other issues," Kurz said.

The last time Biden's health became public, the situation was far more serious. In February 1988 he suffered from severe headaches that were found to be caused by a brain aneurysm, a blood vessel leaking in his brain.

It was life threatening. An ambulance and a police escort took him through snow and rain from St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, where he was diagnosed, to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where surgery lasted for eight hours.

During the operation a second aneurysm was discovered, so more surgery was planned after Biden recuperated from the first. In between, he also was treated for a blood clot in his lungs. He needed six months to recover from that ordeal.

In a political timeline, Biden's aneurysm surgery occurred during his third Senate term after he had dropped out of the 1988 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The gall bladder removal happened while he is considering another try for the nomination in 2004.