The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital where Hillary Clinton is receiving treatment for a blood clot. (AFP)
Washington, Jan. 1: Secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s blood clot formed in her head, her doctors said yesterday, a potentially serious condition from which they nonetheless stressed they expect her to fully recover.
Clinton was hospitalised on Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for the blood clot — in a vein between the brain and the skull and behind her right ear — and doctors said yesterday that it had not resulted in a stroke or neurological damage. They said they were treating her with blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot.
“She will be released once the medication dose has been established,” according to the statement from Dr Lisa Bardack and Dr Gigi El-Bayoumi. Clots like the one Clinton has can be serious, said doctors not involved in her care. Dr David Langer, a brain surgeon and an associate professor at the North Shore-Hofstra-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, said that if this type of clot was untreated, it could cause blood to back up, and could lead to a haemorrhage inside the brain.
Clinton’s doctors struck an upbeat tone in their statement. “In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress, and we are confident she will make a full recovery,” the statement said. “She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family and her staff.”
The sudden turn in Clinton’s condition appeared to take members of her staff by surprise. As recently as Sunday afternoon, they thought she was on the mend and ready to return to work this week.
“Yep, she’s looking forward to getting back to the office this week and resuming her schedule (plan is Wednesday),” Clinton’s close aide, Philippe Reines, replied to an email inquiry. But by 7.30pm on Sunday, all that had changed. Clinton, who had been home for more than two weeks nursing injuries sustained after she fainted and hit her head, suffering a concussion, had been admitted at NewYork-Presbyterian with an ominous diagnosis: a blood clot stemming from the concussion, Reines said.
Instantly, the woman who, before even announcing, has been widely viewed as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, someone who has spent the past four years keeping up a gruelling schedule in which she racked up miles as the most-travelled secretary of state and visited 112 countries, was seeming uncharacteristically fragile.
Instead of talking about who might be her running mate, or how she had, even yesterday, again been named the most admired woman in America in a Gallup poll, the chatter on the Potomac shifted to talk about how, at the end of the day, she is a 65-year-old woman trying to recover after falling and hitting her head.
This being Washington, there was plenty of political finger-pointing.
On Twitter, those sympathetic to Clinton lashed out at Republican critics who had accused her of faking her illness. BuzzFeed helpfully chronicled the top “eight people who thought Hillary Clinton was faking her concussion” because she did not want to testify before Congress on the Benghazi attacks. They included The New York Post, which called her concussion a “head fake”, and the Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, who called her illness “acute Benghazi allergy”.
David Rothkopf, an acting commerce department under secretary in the Bill Clinton administration, strongly criticised the quick politicising of Clinton’s health, both by allies and foes.
“It’s a sign of the level of politicisation that this woman could be lying in a hospital bed dealing with a serious issue and the first reaction of all these people is politics,” Rothkopf said. “There’s no politics in a blood clot.”
“The point is,” he added, “people should just stop and be human beings.”
Clinton’s friends say they have become increasingly concerned about her since she fell ill in mid-December from a stomach virus that left her severely dehydrated. She was vomiting constantly, friends said, and fell forward, hitting her head and blacking out.
The result, one friend said, was a contusion on her eye and on her brain. She was forced to cancel a trip to West Asia and Africa that had been planned for the next week.
On December 13, doctors diagnosed a concussion, and she had been kept since then to limited activity, according to a friend of Clinton’s who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to discuss her illness publicly.
Reines said that on Sunday, during a follow-up exam, doctors found a blood clot and hospitalised her.