Doctors consider removing George H.W. Bush’s breathing tube

Doctors consider removing George H.W. Bush's breathing tube

HOUSTON — Doctors treating former President George H.W. Bush for pneumonia considered whether to take out a breathing tube inserted two days ago to clear his airway.

His wife, Barbara, diagnosed with bronchitis, was feeling “1,000 per cent better” on Thursday after a dose of antibiotics and rest.

The 92-year-old former president and the 91-year-old former first lady both were being cared for at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Family spokesman Jim McGrath said the 41st president remained in stable condition. Bush was hospitalized on Saturday and has been in the intensive care unit since Wednesday, relying on a ventilator to breathe. Removing the tube — a procedure known as extubation — would allow Bush to breathe on his own. He was struggling to breathe when he was admitted to the hospital Saturday.

“We are hopeful he will be discharged from the ICU in a few days,” McGrath said.

Barbara Bush was admitted Wednesday after feeling fatigued and coughing for weeks.

“The couple received “an uplifting visit” from longtime friends former Secretary of State James Baker and his wife, Susan, who also live in Houston, McGrath said.

President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama have sent their well wishes, via Twitter and a news conference, respectively. Former President Bill Clinton also tweeted: “41 and Barbara — thinking about you both and sending wishes for a speedy recovery. Love, 42.”

Former President George W. Bush offered thanks on Instagram Thursday for messages “of love and support for Mother and Dad.”

“Your prayers are working: 41 and Mom are doing much better today and fighting on,” he said in his first public comments about their illnesses.

Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush “look forward to representing them” at Trump’s inauguration Friday in Washington “while they continue to recover in Houston.”

The Bushes were married Jan. 6, 1945, and have had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. At the time of their wedding, he was a young naval aviator. She had been a student at Smith College.

After World War II, they moved to the Texas oil patch to seek their fortune and raise a family. It was there that George Bush began his political career, representing Houston for two terms in Congress in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

George Herbert Walker Bush, born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, also served as CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice-president.

Michael Graczyk, The Associated Press

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