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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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WEB EXTRA: Ashcroft in ‘guarded condition’ after surgery at GW Hospital

Posted: Tuesday, March 9, 6:30 p.m. — U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft will remain at the GW Hospital for at least four days after doctors removed his gallbladder Tuesday.

Ashcroft was admitted to the hospital Thursday night after suffering from stomach pains symptomatic of gallstone pancreatitis.

Doctors performed a 90-minute surgery on Ashcroft, who as of Tuesday night was in “guarded condition” in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Hospital officials said they would give an update on Ashcroft’s condition Thursday, and that he would be at the hospital until at least Saturday.

“Everything went as planned, he did very well,” said Bruce Abell, the director of surgical critical care who has supervised Ashcroft’s treatment at the hospital.

“We’re monitoring the attorney general carefully to be sure his breathing, heart rate and blood pressure remain normal,” said Abell, who was flanked by Hospital Interim CEO Richard Becker and Vice President of Health Affairs John Williams at a press conference in Ross Hall Tuesday afternoon.

Since gallstones blocking Ashcroft’s pancreatic duct were responsible for the inflammation, doctors made a small incision in his belly button to remove his gallbladder, which will prevent further occurrences of pancreatitis, Abell said. Gallstones are pieces of hard material that form from bile in the gallbladder.

Ashcroft’s long-term prognosis was “excellent” said Abell, who was unsure when the attorney general would return to the Justice Department. Since the September 11 attacks, Ashcroft has spearheaded the Bush administration’s effort to apprehend and prosecute terrorists.

“We’re going to have to play that by ear,” he said. “When he’s ready to get back to work, he’ll get back.”

When Ashcroft arrived at the hospital Thursday night, his pancreatitis, which could be life-threatening in some cases, was “pretty severe,” said Abell, who declined to comment further about Ashcroft’s initial condition. He added that doctors had to wait until Ashcroft’s pancreas “settled down” before performing the operation.

The hospital, which is the closest to the nation’s decision-making bodies, has treated a host of federal and foreign officials. In 1981, then-President Ronald Reagan was brought to the hospital being shot in a failed assassination attempt. Vice President Dick Cheney has visited the hospital several times in the past three years for his heart condition.

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