Hospital: Evangelist Billy Graham has pneumonia

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) ? The Rev. Billy Graham was in good spirits at a North Carolina hospital Thursday after being given his second pneumonia diagnosis since May.

Graham, 93, was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville on Wednesday after suffering from congestion, a cough and slight fever, spokesman Larry Ross said. The pneumonia diagnosis was made Thursday.

“He is responding well to antibiotic treatment and is in stable condition,” said Dr. Mark Hellreich, a pulmonologist treating Graham at the hospital.

Graham was alert and upbeat, greeting hospital workers and asking them questions about themselves, according to a statement from a hospital spokeswoman. No date has been set for his discharge.

He was visited Thursday by his pastor, the Rev. Don Wilton, who led Graham in prayer and read from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament. Wilton makes weekly trips from Spartanburg, S.C., to Graham’s home for similar visits.

Graham was also visited Wednesday and Thursday by his oldest daughter, Gigi, who lives nearby in Black Mountain.

In a public ministry that lasted six decades, Graham became the most prominent American Protestant leader and arguably the most famous American Christian in the world. His public crusade meetings packed stadiums and made him an acquaintance of every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

In recent years, Graham has almost completely stopped appearing in public as conditions such as macular degeneration and hearing loss have kept him at home in Montreat, about 20 miles east of Asheville.

He was last hospitalized in May, when he spent five days at the same hospital for pneumonia. Three years ago, he was hospitalized after he tripped and fell over one of his dogs.

Earlier that same year, he had elective surgery on a shunt that controls excess fluid on his brain. A year before that, he was hospitalized for nearly two weeks with intestinal bleeding.

Graham continues to read and write, though, and has said he wants to preach one last sermon. Earlier this year, his 30th book, “Nearing Home,” a reflection on aging and mortality, was published.

“I am certainly no expert on the subject of growing old, but now that I am gaining some experience, I have to admit that not all things get better with age,” Graham wrote in the book.

His wife, Ruth Bell Graham, died in June 2007. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is run by Graham’s son, Franklin.



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