WASHINGTON — In a frightening moment on a day of celebration, Sen. Edward Kennedy suffered a seizure Tuesday at a congressional luncheon honoring President Obama after his inauguration.
Kennedy, 76, who had surgery for a brain tumor in June, was taken by ambulance to Washington Hospital Center, where he was reported to be recovering well. Medical experts said a seizure in a brain cancer patient is not unusual and ordinarily has no serious consequences.
"He's awake and answering questions," said So Young Pak, a spokeswoman for the hospital. She said Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, was with his wife, Victoria, and son Patrick, a Democratic congressman from Rhode Island.
Dr. Edward Aulisi, the hospital's chairman of neurosurgery, later confirmed in a statement that Kennedy had had a seizure, which he said had probably been brought on by "simple fatigue" after a long morning in the cold at the inaugural ceremony.
Aulisi said Kennedy was "feeling well" and would rest in the hospital overnight before being discharged in the morning.
Kennedy's sudden convulsions near the end of the luncheon alarmed his colleagues and many who followed the news on television. Kennedy's hands started shaking, witnesses said, and then his body rocked back and forth uncontrollably. Doctors rushed to his side, and he was removed from the room in a wheelchair lowered to a reclining position.
The only current senator to have served longer than Kennedy, Robert C. Byrd, 91, who was seated in a wheelchair next to him, grew emotional and left the room after his colleague was wheeled out, aides said. That led to rumors that Byrd, D-W.Va., might have suffered some kind of health problem, but staff members said he was fine.
Cheney in wheelchair: Former Vice President Dick Cheney had to be transported through the inaugural ceremonies in a wheelchair on Tuesday, a cane clutched over his knees. Aides said Cheney injured his back moving boxes into his new residence in Virginia.