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Former Hostage Alann Steen Hospitalized After Suffering Seizure

December 8, 1991

WAYNE, Mich. (AP) _ Freed hostage Alann Steen suffered a seizure and was hospitalized shortly after arriving in Michigan from Germany Saturday.

He suffered a seizure immediately after leaving Detroit Metropolitan Airport and was brought to Annapolis Hospital, said Wayne County Sheriff’s Lt. Robert McGraw.

Dr. Surindar Jolly, a neurologist at the hospital, said Steen was in stable condition, but would stay overnight in the intensive care unit for observation.

″He suddenly blacked out and was unable to speak,″ said Jolly, adding Steen was unconscious for ″just a minute or two″ and was coherent when he reached the hospital several minutes later.

Steen was resting comfortably overnight, and his wife, Virginia, was asleep in a chair at his bedside late Saturday, Jolly said.

In a brief statement early, Mrs. Steen said her husband expected the seizures. She refused to answer questions, and said Steen was exhausted and needed rest.

Steen said Thursday an unprovoked attacked by his kidnapper in 1987 left him with permanent brain damage, forcing him to take drugs to control seizures and blackouts.

Jolly said he wasn’t certain the seizure was related to the beatings, but said Steen had no prior history of seizures. Steen probably will be susceptible to similiar seizures the rest of his life, Jolly said.

″He’s handling it very well. He’s smiling, he’s very vocal, and he looks to be in good health,″ Jolly said, adding Steen should be released Sunday.

Steen arrived at the airport from Frankfurt, Germany, with a brief stopover in Boston.

He was en route to the home of his wife’s family in Clark Lake when he had a seizure, McGraw said.

Earlier, Steen said at the airport that he wants to go back to the Middle East someday, but first he wants to read five years’ worth of newspapers and take pleasure in the simple things in life.

″Opening a refrigerator and taking out a Coke, or a Pepsi or a soft drink. Things like that are phenomenal. You take so much for granted,″ Steen told reporters at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. ″If you want to go to the bathroom, you can go whenever you want.″

Steen and his wife spoke briefly before taking a limousine to her parents’ home in Clark Lake, a rural community about 75 miles away.

The former Beirut University College communications professor said he had no immediate plans for the future, other than to send out resumes for teaching positions, even in the Middle East again.

″They have a lot of problems in the Middle East, ... but I would very much like to go back and I wouldn’t mind teaching,″ he said.

He and Mrs. Steen laughed when asked about the extent of brain damage from being beaten and kicked in the head by his captors, saying it was ″overblown.″

Steen said Thursday that while he was exercising with other hostages in 1987 one of his captors kicked him in the stomach, knocking him to the ground, and he hit his head.

Doctors at the U.S. medical hospital said Steen suffered permanent neurological damage and must take medication for the rest of his life.

Steen, a former Marine, said he believed he was taken because of his military past.

″They’re in awe of the United States Marine Corps,″ Steen said of his captors. ″Even though I got out of the Marines in November 1963, ... they were basically going to beat up the Marines.″

Arriving in Boston en route to Michigan from Germany, Steen rejoiced, ″I’m home. I’m home.″

″I’m so glad, so glad to be home,″ Steen said, clutching the hand of his wife as they arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport from Frankfurt.

Mrs. Steen urged the world to remember two Germans still captive in Lebanon. ″I will not forget about them,″ she said.

The Steens were accompanied by his younger brother, Craig.

Steen, 52, shopped Friday in downtown Wiesbaden, Germany, where he received medical attention and was debriefed at a U.S. military hospital after his release Tuesday.

Steen bade farewell Saturday in Germany to fellow hostage Terry Anderson, the last American to be released and the longest-held Western hostage. Anderson was released Wednesday.

Mrs. Steen, 35, said from Wiesbaden that life was starting to feel normal again. She witnessed her husband’s abduction Jan. 24, 1987, six months after they were married.

″The years start to melt away,″ she said.

In Berkeley, Calif., meanwhile, Ann Sutherland, daughter of recently released hostage Thomas Sutherland, gave birth to a boy Friday.

The mother and her 7-pound, 7-ounce son, William Thomas Sutherland-Keller, were doing fine Saturday, said Mark Hurty, a spokesman for Alta Bates Hospital. Last week, Ann Sutherland saw her father for the first time since he was kidnapped in Lebanon 6 1/2 years ago.

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