Billy Graham weaker, but in no 'imminent danger'

tfunk@charlotteobserver.comDecember 8, 2013 

Billy Graham

Billy Graham has gotten weaker since he celebrated his 95th birthday at a celebrity-studded party last month in Asheville, but he is “not in any imminent danger,” and his “vital signs are quite good,” Graham spokesman Mark DeMoss told the Observer in an email on Sunday.

DeMoss, citing Graham’s medical and personal staff, said Graham has not been as strong lately as he was at the Nov. 7 party at the Omni Grove Park Inn, but that his health is not as dire as some news reports have suggested.

Those reports were reacting to recent comments by Franklin Graham, son of the Charlotte-born evangelist.

On Friday, he told WSOC-TV that his father’s health had declined to such an extent that he wasn’t sure the elder Graham, usually an avid TV news watcher, was aware that Nelson Mandela had died on Thursday at age 95.

“He got an infection right after his birthday, and he just hasn’t been able to get his strength back,” Franklin Graham told the Charlotte TV station. “His vitals are good. He’s just extremely weak. You’re always concerned when somebody’s that age.”

The younger Graham added that his father was resting at his Montreat home and that, “I know that he would appreciate your prayers.”

Billy Graham has spent time in the hospital twice in recent months.

On Nov. 20, nearly two weeks after his birthday, he was admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville for respiratory congestion. After his release two days later, Dr. William Hathaway, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said Graham was “alert and in good spirits during his stay. … We were pleased with the results of Mr. Graham’s evaluation.”

On Oct. 22, Graham was also taken to Mission Hospital for a precautionary pulmonary test. He was back at his Montreat home two days after that.

Graham’s private birthday party last month attracted more than 800 people, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, real estate tycoon Donald Trump, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and pastor-author Rick Warren.

In connection with his 95th birthday, Graham offered, on video, what could be his last public message. The video, called “The Cross,” was shown at the party and has been widely televised and shown in gatherings in church members’ homes around the country.

In the video, partly taped at his Montreat home, Graham called for a spiritual reawakening in the United States.

Funk: 704-358-5703

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