Former US President George H.W. Bush hospitalized after neck injury

Updated: 2015-07-17 10:45


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Former US President George H.W. Bush hospitalized after neck injury

Former US President George H.W. Bush waits to be awarded the Medal of Freedom by US President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House in Washington in this February 15, 2011 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

BOSTON - Former US President George H.W. Bush is in fair condition and recovering in a Maine hospital after breaking a bone in his neck in a fall at his summer home, his spokesman said on Thursday.

Bush, who at 91 is the oldest living former American president, was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland following the fall on Wednesday at his seaside compound in Kennebunkport.

"The plan is to let this injury heal on its own without surgery," according to a statement by his spokesman, Jim McGrath. The statement said the former president, who celebrated his 90th birthday on June 12, 2014, by parachuting out of an airplane, would remain in the hospital to be fitted for a neck brace and for therapy and further evaluation.

"We do not discuss timelines for discharge but do not believe this will be a prolonged recovery period at MMC," the statement said.

The fall left Bush, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and cannot use his legs, with a cracked C2 vertebrae but no spinal damage, his attending physician, William D'Angelo, told reporters at the hospital on Thursday afternoon. He said the injury was not uncommon in older people and that full healing typically took three or four months.

"He's doing great, his spirits are good, and he's up and talking, and out of bed," D'Angelo said.

President Barack Obama called Bush on Thursday to wish him a speedy recovery, the White House said. "The president extended best wishes on behalf of himself and the first lady," spokesman Eric Schultz said.

Bush was last hospitalized in Houston for a week in December 2014 because of breathing difficulties.

Bush is the father of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The elder Bush, a Republican like his sons, served as vice president during Ronald Reagan's two White House terms before being elected president in 1988. He served four years in the White House.

He lost his 1992 re-election bid to Democrat Bill Clinton.