ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Evangelist Billy Graham underwent successful surgery Wednesday to update a shunt that controls excess fluid in his brain, and was expected to remain in the hospital for several days.
Graham was listed in fair condition at Asheville's Mission Hospitals after the 28-minute procedure. "He's on a soft diet tonight, will be on a regular diet tomorrow and should be up and walking around," said Larry Ross, Graham's spokesman.
Dr. Ralph C. Loomis installed a new valve in the shunt on Wednesday that can be programmed externally to maintain desired fluid levels and pressure.
Graham was expected to remain there until doctors are able to program the valve to properly regulate the pressure.
"He was bright and alert and conscious immediately after surgery and called me by name," Loomis said in a statement.
The charismatic Southern Baptist minister has a variety of health concerns that have confined him largely to his mountainside home in the hamlet of Montreat for several years. Among the concerns was hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid within the brain that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.
In 2000, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., installed a shunt that drains excessive fluid from the brain through a small tube. The tube runs down into the abdominal cavity, where the fluid is absorbed by his body. A recent checkup found the shunt was no longer adequately controlling the fluid in his brain.
Graham, 89, was hospitalized at Mission for nearly two weeks last year after experiencing intestinal bleeding caused by an arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of small blood vessels in the lining of the colon. He also has suffered from prostate cancer and macular degeneration.
His wife, Ruth Bell Graham, died in June following a lengthy illness.
Several of Graham's children, including daughters Anne and Ruth and son Franklin, were at the hospital with their father on Wednesday.
"Everything I've seen is just gratitude that things went so well," said Mission Hospitals spokeswoman Merrell Gregory.
Graham has preached in person to more than 210 million people worldwide in a career spanning six decades. His crusade-based ministry packed stadiums with believers and put Graham in place to befriend every U.S. president since Harry Truman and become a confidant to many.