The office of Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) disclosed late Wednesday that the veteran lawmaker has been unable to breathe regularly on his own since emergency brain surgery was conducted last month to fix a brain hemorrhage, an indication that his condition has been significantly more delicate than previously acknowledged.
A source close to the family explained Wednesday that during surgery in December to address a hemorrhage brought on by arteriovenous malformation, Johnson’s lungs began to fill with fluid, making it impossible for him to breathe on his own. This source argued the development is not uncommon in complicated, lengthy surgeries like the one performed on Johnson, and that his condition has improved to the point that he needs the assistance of a ventilator only at night.
The source also said Johnson’s inability to verbally communicate has been caused largely by the respirator he requires to breathe and is not directly connected to his condition.
While it is expected that Johnson faces months of recovery and rehabilitation, his most recent round of tests indicate he is largely out of the woods, his office said Wednesday.
In a statement released by his office, neurosurgeon Dr. Vivek Deshmukh said an angiogram performed Wednesday morning on Johnson “revealed no evidence of residual arteriovenous malformation. Sen. Johnson continues to be responsive to both his family and physicians — following commands, squeezing his wife’s hand, and understanding speech.”
Deshmukh also said in the statement that Johnson’s “breathing has steadily improved and now he only requires ventilator assistance at night.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.