Mr. Graham was brought to Mission Health & Hospitals in Asheville, N.C., early on Saturday, August 18, for treatment of intestinal bleeding. During the hospitalization, his care was directed by internal medicine specialist Lucian Rice, MD, and gastroenterologist Will Harlan, MD.
The physicians initially thought the bleeding was related to a diverticulum, based on Mr. Graham’s history of diverticulosis and the characteristics of the bleeding. However, a colonoscopy on Wednesday, August 22, revealed a non-diverticular bleeding source in the colon most consistent with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). According to Dr. Harlan, the site was successfully treated with cauterization, and there has been no further evidence of bleeding since.
An AVM is a tangle of small blood vessels in the lining of the colon. Bleeding from an AVM may be chronic, causing anemia, or it may be rapid, as it was in Mr. Graham’s case. Treatment is usually by cauterization. Only rarely is surgery necessary, and it was not needed for Mr. Graham.
As Mr. Graham recovered, he was closely monitored for signs of ongoing bleeding. Other sites of bleeding were excluded by performing an upper endoscopy and a capsule endoscopy, a new non-invasive method for studying the small intestine. The study did not show any additional areas of bleeding in the small intestine.
Dr. Rice, Mr. Graham’s personal physician, said shortly before his discharge that he believes the evangelist will continue to regain his strength. “We have been pleased that he has been able to come back from this incident as well as he has,” Dr. Rice said. “He will continue to have therapy at home, and I feel that he can have a very good recovery.”
During his hospital stay, Mr. Graham had daily physical therapy and took frequent walks to rebuild his strength. He often stopped to talk with hospital staff members and other patients and their families in nearby rooms.
“I am grateful for the wonderful care that I have received at Mission Hospitals,” Mr. Graham told his staff upon discharge. “I have been a patient at many hospitals and I have never had better care anywhere in the world. I am amazed at the staff’s efficiency and compassion. I actually don’t want to leave. But as I do, I want to also express my appreciation for the support and prayers of so many people for me during this time.”
Four of Mr. Graham’s adult children have been able to visit him during his hospitalization. His son, Franklin Graham, President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, saw his father before and after his trip to Ecuador, where he led the Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope) on August 23-25. His daughters, Gigi Graham-Foreman, Anne Graham Lotz, and Ruth Graham, have all visited, and his son, Ned Graham, who lives in Washington State, has kept in close touch with his father by telephone.
During his stay, Mr. Graham kept up with current events on television and in the newspapers, and enjoyed reading cards and notes from friends and associates. His staff reports that his appetite has been excellent and that he remained in good spirits and fully alert throughout his hospitalization and treatments.
Mr. Graham, who is 88, lost his wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, on June 14, 2007.