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Bill Young's final moments

Published Oct. 21, 2013

WASHINGTON - Suspecting a blood clot, doctors wanted to operate on U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young but warned him it was highly risky and that he might die.

So at 2 p.m. on Oct. 13, Young gathered his family around him at Walter Reed and told them he did not want to have the surgery.

"He said he was sorry he couldn't take the pain anymore and was it ok?" his wife, Beverly, said in an interview Sunday. "He was willing to keep fighting. But the kids all said 'Dad you don't need to be in pain because of us.' "

Five days later, at 6:50 p.m., Young was pronounced dead, ending a political career that spanned five decades but also shocking his family. Young had planned to be back in Florida now, getting rehabilitation for back injuries. He promised his grandchildren he'd take them Trick or Treating.

"He just said no," Mrs. Young said, crying. "He said 'I don't want to do it.' He said he would rather have his last days with his family and his grandchildren then go into a procedure and not come out."

Beverly Young said her husband went to Walter Reed two weeks ago because the pain in his back had become unbearable. But something else was going on. One morning while eating breakfast Young started coughing and motioned for his wife to bring him a tissue.

"When I got him the Kleenex I saw bright red blood and I didn't tell him. I ran and got the doctor. He was still coughing it up."

Doctors suspected it was a blood clot and an X-ray showed fluid in a lung, Beverly Young said. He had been on blood thinners since having open heart surgery years ago.

His back was an ongoing ordeal. Young suffered injuries in a 1970 plane crash and in recent years had surgeries that were met with tragic misfortune when a young medic dropped him while trying to put him in a wheelchair. "He picked Bill up in a bear hug. I said no!" The wheelchair had moved slightly and Young feel on his butt. There was talk of a lawsuit but Young waved it off.

"THe would never sue his country," said Mrs. Young, who declined to name the military hospital because she said it was not the hospital's fault. "It was just a really unfortunate mistake that a child made."

While in the hospital last week, Young's right arm swelled up and he got pneumonia, his wife said.

"He didn't expect this. We thought we were going to be ok. We were going to go to rehab. But things just went bad. It all just spiraled out of control"