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Reagan recovering from hip surgery
Wife Nancy remains at his side
SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- Former President Reagan was eating and taking very little pain medication, his spokeswoman said Sunday, one day after surgery to repair a right hip fracture.
The nation's 40th president had a good night following the procedure and remains in stable condition at St. John's Health Center, according to a statement released by Joanne Drake, chief of staff and spokeswoman for Reagan.
His doctor, lead orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Ehrhart, said in the statement the fact that Reagan was taking little pain medication was "quite remarkable for a patient with a hip repair of this nature."
Doctors were hoping Reagan, 89, would begin to sit up by Sunday afternoon, as a first step in his physical therapy, the statement said.
Earlier, Drake said the surgery "met doctors' highest expectations" and Reagan's recovery was on target. He was expected to be released within seven to 10 days.
Alzheimer's disease will complicate recovery
The former president suffered the hip injury in a fall at his Bel-Air home Friday afternoon.
Reagan was placed under general anesthesia on Saturday before a series of pins, screws and a plate were used to put his hip back together. The surgery, originally expected to last three hours, started at 8:30 a.m. and was completed by 9:35 a.m.
Afterward, Ehrhart said Reagan would be able to complete most of his recovery and rehabilitation at home and would need to use a walker when he regains mobility. "The condition of the president's tissue, specifically the muscle and bone, was that of a much younger man, which obviously helps substantially with his recovery," Ehrhart said.
Reagan, who served as president from 1981-1989, turns 90 next month.
In 1994, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The progressive, irreversible neurological disorder presents a challenge to the former president's rehabilitation, Ehrhart said. "I am sure it will complicate it somewhat more. It's a bigger challenge but one that is not uncommon in orthopedics," he said.
He added that the main risks that people of Reagan's age and condition faced in their recuperation were heart failure and pneumonia.
Prince, prime minister and former presidents
Nancy Reagan has been with her husband since he was hospitalized Friday afternoon at St. John's Health Center after falling Friday at the couple's home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles. "Mrs. Reagan is glued to his side," Drake said.
"She spent the night again in his room and although tired, is comforted by the hundreds of phone calls and messages that she has received from around the world," the spokeswoman said.
In a statement issued Sunday, President Clinton sent well-wishes to the former president and his family. "Hillary and I are relieved that President Reagan's treatment for his injury appears to have been successful," Clinton said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the president, his wife, Nancy, and the entire Reagan family during this difficult period. We join all Americans in wishing him a speedy recovery."
Drake said Mrs. Reagan has also heard from president-elect George W. Bush; his father, former President George Bush; former President Gerald Ford; Senator and Mrs. John McCain; Lady Margaret Thatcher; Prince Charles; former Canadian Prime Minister and Mrs. Brian Mulroney; former Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone; and the Rev. Billy Graham.
Children allowed to visit
Although doctors have placed strict restrictions on visitation, Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, visited him Saturday as did his son and daughter-in-law Michael and Colleen Reagan.
Youngest son, Ron Reagan, telephoned from Seattle, Washington, and plans to visit his father in the hospital in the next few days, Drake said.
Reagan's eldest daughter, Maureen, has been undergoing cancer treatments for melanoma at the same hospital since December 11.
At 69, Ronald Reagan was the oldest man ever elected president of the United States. He maintained a thumbs-up demeanor for the public after a 1981 assassination attempt in which he was hit in the upper chest by a bullet.
He also went through several bouts with illness -- including surgery for skin cancer, to remove a suspicious polyp and for enlargement of the prostate -- during and after his presidency.
Reagan faces 'uphill struggle'
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
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