Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Indiana governor stricken


O'Bannon's prognosis 'uncertain' after surgery

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon survived several hours of brain surgery Monday after being found unconscious in a Chicago hotel room.

"The governor is now out of surgery. It's clear to say that this is a very critical time for the governor and our prayers are with him," said Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan, who assumed duties as acting governor after consulting legislative leaders.

Doctors called the 73-year-old governor's prognosis "uncertain'' after several hours of surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where surgeons tried to relieve pressure on O'Bannon's brain caused by a stroke or, possibly, from an injury. Doctors said they removed blood from both sides of his brain.

A staffer found O'Bannon unconscious at 9:30 a.m. in the Palmer House Hilton, where he was attending the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association conference.

Kernan, who is 57 and a former Procter & Gamble Co. manufacturing manager in Cincinnati, also was in Chicago.

He returned to Indianapolis Monday.

State politicians were shocked by the news. Several said O'Bannon, a Democrat, appeared in perfect health only a week before, despite the pressure of a second four-year term that's seen enormous budget cuts for state government.

Indiana politicians describe O'Bannon, originally from Corydon, Ind., as the quintessential Indiana native - playing college basketball for the Hoosiers, working hard to help struggling farmers and helping revitalize struggling small downtowns.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




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