<
>

Falwell in critical condition with viral pneumonia

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Doctors upgraded the Rev. Jerry Falwell's
condition from critical to stable on Wednesday and removed the
Moral Majority founder from a ventilator.
Falwell, 71, has fluid in his lungs and doctors say he suffers
from congestive heart failure, although a cardiologist, Dr. Carl
Moore, said testing showed "his heart is strong" and he had not
suffered a heart attack.
Ron Godwin, Falwell's executive assistant, had said Tuesday that
Falwell had suffered a recurrence of the viral pneumonia he had
suffered from weeks earlier. But doctors said Wednesday he did not
have pneumonia.
Falwell, who was admitted late Monday, heard from President
Bush, who wished him well, a spokesman for Lynchburg General
Hospital said at a news briefing. Details of the phone call were
not released.
Godwin visited with his boss and said he was talking to friends
and family.
"He's very stable," Godwin said earlier Wednesday. "His
vitals are steady and strong."
Falwell was admitted to Lynchburg General in "respiratory
arrest." Family members told Moore that Falwell had been
unconscious from five to seven minutes and had to be resuscitated
by EMTs at the hospital emergency room.
Moore said there is no evidence of neurological damage.
Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979 and became the face
of the religious right as his political lobbying organization grew
to 6.5 million members and raised millions for conservative
politicians.
This is the second hospitalization this year for Falwell, the
founder of Liberty University. He had left the hospital March 4
after 13 days, spending part of the time on a ventilator for what
was called a viral infection.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Falwell said he
was feeling much better but still recovering from his hospital
stay.
Falwell had been in the pulpit Easter Sunday at Thomas Road
Baptist Church and appeared in good health, said the Rev. Dave
Randlett, a senior associate pastor.
"He always looks `up' so you wouldn't know if he wasn't"
feeling well, Randlett said. "He was very optimistic."
An avid sports fan, Falwell had made the trip to Chattanooga,
Tenn., on Saturday to see Liberty University's team play in the
third round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament. The team
lost.
Godwin said Falwell had "not been unreasonable" in his public
schedule since his discharge. "He's been coming in at 10:30 or 11
in the morning and working until 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon. This
past weekend was a little busier."