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Hospitalized senator's condition upgraded

January 10, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tim Johnson's condition has been upgraded from critical to fair, four weeks after he was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage, and he no longer needs a ventilator to help him breathe.

Johnson is breathing independently after using a ventilator for several weeks, most recently only at night, his doctor, Vivek Deshmukh, said Tuesday.

The South Dakota Democrat, who underwent emergency surgery on Dec. 13, remains in intensive care at George Washington University Hospital, said his spokeswoman, Julianne Fisher.

"The senator continues to make progress," Fisher said. "The next step would be rehabilitation, and we hope that would happen within the week."

A tracheotomy tube remains in his neck to guard his airway, and the senator still has not spoken, Fisher said.

The senator is expected to leave intensive care but remain in the hospital when he begins the rehabilitation process. His office has said that his recovery is expected to take months.

Johnson was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation.

His long-term prognosis is unclear. Doctors have said he is steadily improving and has been responsive to his family and physicians.

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