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Sen. Thurmond To Have Surgery

August 24, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Strom Thurmond, the oldest member of Congress at 96, has decided to undergo prostate surgery several months earlier than planned after he was hospitalized following a collapse last week.

``Frankly I think he’s relieved to get this procedure out of the way and get some relief,″ Thurmond spokesman John DeCrosta said Monday.

Thurmond, R-S.C., entered Walter Reed Army Medical Center Sunday night complaining of tiredness after a busy schedule in South Carolina, a statement from his office said Monday.

He was released from a Columbia hospital Friday night after tests following his collapse earlier that day at a reception at the University of South Carolina. He appeared unsteady as he left the hospital, but he continued his weekend schedule, which included a wedding for a former aide in Charleston.

The statement said Thurmond decided to go ahead with his prostate surgery because the chronically enlarged gland had given him more trouble in recent months. The surgery had been scheduled for November but now will be done Wednesday. He is expected to remain hospitalized through the weekend.

DeCrosta said that Thurmond was in good spirits while awaiting the procedure.

``When I spoke to him this morning he certainly sounded strong and chipper,″ DeCrosta said.

Thurmond was first elected to the Senate in 1954 and became the oldest person to serve in Congress at age 93. At 94 he became the longest-serving senator ever.

He has been hospitalized briefly several times in recent years, including for a day in Washington after he became dizzy in October 1997. He also spent several days in a military hospital for a respiratory infection that December and earlier that year was hospitalized in Washington recovering from the flu.

DeCrosta said the senator received his annual physical at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston last week and was pronounced healthy.

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