The longest-serving US congressman, 92-year-old Senator Robert Byrd, was “seriously ill” in hospital Sunday after apparently suffering from exhaustion and dehydration, his office said.
The West Virginia Democrat was admitted to a Washington area hospital late last week and “his doctors have described his condition as ‘seriously ill,'” according to a statement released by his office.
Byrd went to the hospital “suffering from what was believed to be heat exhaustion and severe dehydration as a result of the extreme temperatures,” with Washington-area temperatures hovering in the 90s (32-37 degrees Celsius).
He had been expected to remain in hospital for only a few days, but “upon further examination by his doctors, other conditions have developed which has resulted in his condition being described as ‘serious,'” the statement added.
Byrd has served in Congress since January 3, 1953, nine years longer than President Barack Obama has been alive.
He had several health scares in recent years, including an extended hospitalization last year prompted speculation of his looming retirement, which never materialized.
An enthusiastic supporter of Obama’s 2008 White House bid, he has expressed regret for his past membership in the Ku Klux Klan and participating in the 83-day filibuster to delay the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation.
Serving first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate, he is the only person ever elected to nine full Senate terms.