Stricken lawmaker who won Obama's Senate seat heads home

Reuters News
Posted: May 03, 2012 3:33 PM
Stricken lawmaker who won Obama's Senate seat heads home

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Mark Kirk, the Republican who won the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when he became president, is leaving a medical center where he has been recovering since suffering a major stroke three months ago, his family said on Thursday.

The family's statement did not say when Kirk, the junior senator from Illinois, might return to the Senate. But it said the 52-year-old had begun physical therapy to increase his mobility and independence and was "maintaining his schedule with staff."

Kirk, a five-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, won Obama's former Senate seat in 2010 in a close election against Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat who had served as Illinois state treasurer.

But less than 14 months after assuming office, he checked into a hospital complaining of a headache and dizziness. Doctors quickly determined he had suffered a stroke that blocked the blood flow to the right side of his brain.

They removed a portion of his skull to relieve pressure from brain swelling and expressed optimism that Kirk's cognitive functions would not be affected.

A native of Champaign, Illinois, Kirk was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000, and is seen as a moderate Republican.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune and Xavier Briand)