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Former Rep. Dingell OK after getting pacemaker

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
John Dingell

Former Rep. John Dingell had a pacemaker installed Thursday in two chambers of his heart a day ahead of schedule and was “doing OK,” his wife said Thursday.

The Henry Ford Hospital doctors in Detroit moved up the procedure to “get it done,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell in a Facebook posting.

The longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history wasn’t allowed to move for six hours following surgery and was expected to remain in the hospital “a few more days,” she said in a statement.

The retired congressman was stunned by Thursday’s news that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, decided to withdraw from running for House speaker, Debbie Dingell said on Facebook. Even in a medicated condition, he was “giving everyone near him a government lesson,” she said.

On Wednesday, John Dingell had an angiogram, or X-ray of his heart’s blood flow.

Even though the 89-year-old former congressman has had a series of heart issues, he didn’t have a major heart attack as first feared, Debbie Dingell said earlier this week. He was hospitalized Monday.

“The good news is he did not have a major silent heart attack,” which doctors were concerned he may have had, she said Wednesday.

Debbie Dingell said the doctor told him “he is lucky” because he’s in the “top 1 percent to 3 percent of men his age.”

John Dingell took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to give his own whimsical diagnosis: “It wasn’t a heart attack, but doctors are recommending I do all I can to try to forget the end of that Lions game. Here for a few more days.”

In March 2014, he underwent surgery at Henry Ford Hospital to correct the source of an abnormal heart rhythm. Dingell’s office then said he developed atrial fibrillation and had the procedure to correct it.

Dingell has had other health problems. On Dec. 31, he was released from George Washington University Hospital after an 18-day stay following a broken hip.

In September 2014, he was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital for an infection. He was released after four days.

At the end of last year, Dingell retired after 59 years from the House, where he cast more than 25,000 votes.