Jerry Falwell Doing Better

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, hospitalized in serious condition, said he is on the mend after a health crisis in which he stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated earlier this week.

Falwell had recovered enough by Thursday that he was able to sit in an armchair, take a call from the White House and visit with his grandchildren, officials said.

"I'm making progress," the 71-year-old Moral Majority (search) founder said in an interview with The News & Advance of Lynchburg. "I'll be in here for a few days."

Despite his optimism, Falwell's son, Jerry Falwell Jr., said a return to the Thomas Road Baptist Church (search) pulpit this week appeared unlikely.

"I just don't think it's going to happen," he told the newspaper.

Falwell had preached Easter Sunday, a day before he was checked into the hospital for the second time this year.

Falwell stopped breathing late Monday and had to be resuscitated when he arrived at the hospital, but he was able to sit in an armchair and visit with family Thursday, the hospital said in a statement.

Falwell also took a call from White House chief political adviser Karl Rove (search), who spoke at the May 2004 commencement of Falwell's Liberty University (search).

Doctors intended to conduct a round of tests to pinpoint why Falwell had fluid in his lungs.

"Congestive heart failure is normally associated with a weak heart, which Dr. Falwell does not have," said Dr. Carl Moore, the cardiologist treating Falwell.

Preliminary tests showed Falwell also did not suffer a heart attack. Falwell does have a history of high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. Moore said.

Family members told doctors Falwell had been unconscious from five to seven minutes before he arrived at the hospital emergency room in "respiratory arrest." 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.

His last hospital admission ended March 4 after 13 days; he was on a ventilator for four to five days suffering from a viral infection. Doctors said Falwell's current medical emergency is not as severe as the first.

He also was placed on a ventilator in his latest hospital admission, but was removed from it Wednesday.