Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson was in critical condition recovering from emergency brain surgery Thursday, creating political drama over whether his illness could cost Democrats newly won control of the Senate.
The South Dakota senator, 59, suffered from bleeding in the brain caused by a congenital malformation, the U.S. Capitol physician said. He described the surgery as successful.
The condition, usually present at birth, causes tangled blood vessels that can burst.
[..]Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he had visited Johnson in the hospital Thursday morning and that he was confident of a full recovery.
[..]Reid refused to comment on Johnson's medical condition, declining to even answer a question on whether the senator was conscious. "To me he looked very good," Reid said.
[..]"The senator is recovering without complication," said Adm. John Eisold, the Capitol physician. "It is premature to determine whether further surgery will be required or to assess any long-term prognosis."
Eisold said doctors drained the blood that had accumulated in Johnson's brain and stopped continued bleeding.
Johnson's condition, also known as AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large and become tangled.
The condition is believed to affect about 300,000 Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The institute's Web site said only about 12 percent of the people with the condition experience symptoms, ranging in severity. It kills about 3,000 people a year.
The senator's wife, Barbara Johnson, said the family "is encouraged and optimistic."
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