Former US President George H.W. Bush has been transferred from intensive care and could be released from the hospital Friday or over the weekend, doctors said on Monday.
His wife and former first lady Barbara Bush was discharged from the hospital, Bush physicians Amy Mynderse and Clint Doerr said.
The former first couple was admitted to Houston Methodist hospital on Wednesday. The 41st president, who is 92, was suffering from bacterial pneumonia, while Barbara Bush, 91, had viral bronchitis, doctors said.
The former president was intubated for 48 hours to aid with his breathing. He is now breathing on his own.
“He is sitting up, watching TV and is waiting anxiously for his favorite oyster stew for lunch,” Doerr said. “He’s on minimal oxygen, joking and laughing with the nurses and doctors.”
Full recovery for the couple will take another week or two, according to the physicians.
“X-rays continue to improve, so no obvious re-accumulation of material in his airways that would then again put him behind the eight-ball,” Doerr said, adding that the former president will need a “fairly aggressive combination of breathing medications. We’ll finish off a full course of antibiotics as well.”
Parkinson’s disease, which has left the former president in a wheelchair, played a minimal role in his illness, doctors said, because it is a less common form of the disease that has affected only his lower body. However, his advanced age is of great concern, they added.
Barbara Bush, admitted to the hospital as a precaution, was to return later in the day to remain by her husband’s bedside.
Mrs Bush stayed mostly by her husband’s side while she was hospitalized, doctors said, even though the two slept in separate hospital rooms.
“They really, truly are therapy for each other,” Mynderse said. “When she’s not there, he’s looking for her.”
The former president and first lady have received many messages of support, the doctors said, including from a family that hand-delivered a get-well card. The card hangs in the former president’s hospital room, the doctors added.
The couple has been surprised by the public concern. Mynderse said that before he headed to the Monday news conference, Bush had reacted by asking him: “People want to know about me?”
The elder Bushes were the only former White House residents who did not attend Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump — because of their declining health. The couple watched the ceremony from the hospital.
Another former president, their son George W. Bush, was on the stand Friday in Washington.