Apr 15, 2018, 6:26 PM ET

Former First Lady Barbara Bush in failing health: Family spokesman


Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who has been battling congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and go home from a hospital to be "surrounded by a family she adores," according to a statement released Sunday by the office of former President George H.W. Bush.

Mrs. Bush, 92, has been hospitalized several times in Houston, Texas, over the past year to be treated for chronic pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, her family has said.

PHOTO: Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush discusses her White House experience during a day-long symposium titled Americas First Ladies-An Enduring Legacy at the George Bush Presidential Library Center at Texas A&M, Nov. 14, 2011.Robert Daemmrich/Corbis via Getty Images
Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush discusses her White House experience during a day-long symposium titled "America's First Ladies-An Enduring Legacy" at the George Bush Presidential Library Center at Texas A&M, Nov. 14, 2011.

“Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment, and instead will focus on comfort care,” reads a statement released by her husband's office.

SLIDESHOW: Barbara Bush through the years

"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself -- thanks to her abiding faith, but for others," the statement reads. "She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."

In January, Mrs. Bush and her husband were hospitalized at the same time. She was being treated for bronchitis and the nation's 41st president was being treated for pneumonia.

Barbara Bush served as the country's first lady from 1989 to 1993. She is the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.

Mrs. Bush is one of only two first ladies in the history of the country who is also the mother of a president. Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, a founding father of the nation and its second president, was the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. president.

Barbara Bush is also the mother of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who ran for president of the United States in 2016.

Mr. and Mrs. Bush celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on Jan. 6.

In an alumni magazine from Smith College, where she attended, Mrs. Bush says the marriage has endured because of the couple's love for each other.

"I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago," she said at the time in the "Smith Alumnae Quarterly."

"George Bush has given me the world," she also said in the magazine, which was published earlier this month. "He is the best -- thoughtful and loving."

Heartfelt support for the former first lady came pouring in from all over the country.

"The President's and First Lady's prayers are with all of the Bush Family during this time," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic leader, tweeted that she was praying for the former first lady.

"As always, Barbara Bush is a comfort to her friends & family teaching us all how to live full of faith, love & humor. Praying that she is comfortable & send love to President Bush & their family," Pelosi Tweeted.

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also took to Twitter to send Mrs. Bush well wishes.

"Prayers going up for a woman of great faith, great strength, and an unwavering love of country," Haley tweeted. "Our country is better because of former First Lady Barbara Bush."

Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton also tweeted that she is "keeping Barbara Bush and her family in my heart and prayers."

"I will never forget how kind she was to me on every occasion we met, and how fondly the White House staff always spoke of her," Clinton wrote.

During her tenure as the nation's first lady, Barbara Bush, the mother of six children, was a champion for global literacy and continued the work after her and her husband left the White House. In 1989, she formed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which encourages parents to read to their children.

PHOTO: In a Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, file photo, former first lady Barbara Bush listens to a patients question during a visit to the Barbara Bush Childrens Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo
In a Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, file photo, former first lady Barbara Bush listens to a patient's question during a visit to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

"Literacy fits in with so many other things," she once told the Chicago Tribune. "If more people could read, fewer people would have AIDS. There would be less homelessness. I'm absolutely convinced of that."

Mrs. Bush has had a long history of health problems, dating back to her time as the first lady. In 1989, she revealed that she suffered from Graves' Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. She later began taking medications for the disease and received radiation as part of her treatment.

After experiencing abdominal pains in November 2008, Mrs. Bush was hospitalized at Methodist Hospital in Houston in November of 2008. She underwent laparoscopic surgery to close a hole in her small intestine caused by an ulcer.

Four months later, she underwent precautionary open heart surgery at the same hospital to replace her aortic valve. Hospital officials reported that the procedure was a success.

During her four years as the first lady, and eight years before that as the wife of the vice president in the Reagan administration, Mrs. Bush embodied what many believed to be the traditionally dutiful political wife: silent on most issues, but enthusiastically supportive of her husband and family.

PHOTO: Barbara Bush visits during round 2 of the 2016 Champions Tour Insperity Invitational, The Woodlands Country Club, The Woodlands, Texas. Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via AP
Barbara Bush visits during round 2 of the 2016 Champions Tour Insperity Invitational, The Woodlands Country Club, The Woodlands, Texas.

In her 1994 book -- "Barbara Bush: A Memoir" -- she revealed her pro-choice stance on abortion, a position that ran contrary to her husband's.

But speaking to Barbara Walters on ABC News' "20/20" upon publication of the book, Barbara Bush indicated she was sincere about the emphasis the book placed on her family and friends. In the book, she reproduced an open letter to her children containing her advice on life.

"Value your friends," she wrote. "They are your most valuable asset.

"Love your children," she added. "You are the best children any two people ever had. I know you will be as lucky. Your kids are great. Dad and I love them more than life itself."

PHOTO: In this Sept. 2, 2008 file photo, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, left, and former first lady Barbara Bush are seen at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.Susan Walsh/AP
In this Sept. 2, 2008 file photo, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, left, and former first lady Barbara Bush are seen at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Julie Percha and M.L. Nestel contributed to this report.

News - Former First Lady Barbara Bush in failing health: Family spokesman

RRelated Posts


  • DuelingDogmas

    Classy lady through and through. One of the better FLOTUS's we've had, she's an inspiration to many.

  • ctla567

    Best wishes to you Barbara. Take it easy and enjoy your life to the fullest.

  • Mirage2020

    Thoughts and prayers to a strong woman and great FLOTUS....Peace be with you!

  • bubs

    sad to hear the news. hopefully her last days will be as comfortable as possible.

  • Sola Scriptura V

    She was an honorable first lady. Prayers and thoughts and hoping for a quick recovery.

  • Thomas

    I hope that when her times comes, she passes with little pain and with some dignity.

  • Mari Marigold

    I would imagine she will pass soon, and then her husband will follow shortly thereafter. That's usually what happens to couples who live together into very old age.

  • Alan Perugini

    We took people of this generation for granted. And as we lose them, along with the times that formed them, something indelibly is lost.

  • just saying

    white onion soup for pneumonia.

  • Donmustgo

    I did not care for her Husband or his politics but I always thought she was a class lady. Sounds like she is comfortable and surrounded by love so that's good. Prayers sent.

  • David

    Lots of opinions about her husband and sons. Positive and negative, but I've never heard a negative word about her. She is what we used to call a matriarch, a fine strong lady who from all outside appearances was classy and of upstanding character.

  • j a

    Bless her, I always thought she was a class act. Not familiar with the Katrina comments she allegedly made, but for those wishing her ill I'd remind them of karma.

  • USAF Retired

    God bless her. She was a beautiful and elegant First Lady regardless of her age. She always carried herself proudly as a lady.

  • disqus_7Qw73LfCUQ

    Never put Melania Trump in the same sentence with Barbara Bush, such an outstanding person.

  • Personal

    Aw. Bless her. I hope it won’t be too difficult for her. She is a lady throughout.

  • RohnertPark1

    Mrs. Bush is a class act, living her life on her own terms.

  • j penske

    God Bless. A truly classy First Lady and human being.

  • Uwe Bott

    Barbara Bush did not fear disagreeing with her husband on major issues. She gained my respect for that. Today, she is earning even more of that respect by choosing to die in a dignified way. I am with you Barbara and as an adamant Democrat, I admire you.

  • Paul Afran

    one classy first lady, 92 years ..America was blessed to have you as a first lady

  • Gerald Lee

    I've seen 1st Ladies since Bess Truman. And you remain my favorite! I'll admit your daughter-in-law is right behind you in my heart. Both teachers, both stalwart, both unafraid to reveal their hearts and souls. I wish I could be there to give you a Texas sized hug for all you have meant to my family and me. May God bless and keep you always!

  • Nicole

    Sending prayers to former First Lady Barbara Bush!

  • Jan515

    My thoughts and prayers are with the first lady and her family.

  • hucky01

    If you want an ideal first lady, you need look no further! She always was what every First Lady should strive to be!

  • John J Guy

    ...I wish her well and I wish her peace of mind!

  • Victoria Kugler

    All you have to do to be first lady is get married. I do not respect her.

  • Sophie Rose

    While I did not always agree with ANY of the Bush's politics I always liked them as people. I lived in Texas for decades and my impression was they are "good people", people you could be friends with in spite of disagreeing with their politics.

    My thoughts are with this strong woman and her family.

  • Morgan Sheridan

    I hope she has an easy death. I worked for a literacy program in my town that was started because of her efforts. During my tenure there, our oldest student was 83. Her goal was to be able to read her late son's favorite SF novel, Dune. She succeeded, thanks to Barbara Bush's literacy program.

  • SH

    This is not about, Tans, Makeup,Politics, Like or Hate - this is about a human being who is a former First Lady and is in her last stages of life - this is a time for Respect.

  • arriba65

    A brave and classy lady.

  • snake

    Barbara Bush has lived a good life and served as First Lady with dignity and class. It's good to see her at peace and surrounded by a loving family.

  • Dicazi

    That's what my mother died of and she had made a similar decision.
    Praying for her family.

  • Miss LaRhonda

    She was a wonderful First Lady back when we use to respect the president and his family. Now we got a president who cheats on his wives with prostitutes in Russia. SMH!

  • Pingy

    Trump had better keep his mouth shut.

  • No PC Spoken Here 3-fer Pens

    A prayer coming your way today.

  • 2late2care?

    She is a First LADY.

  • Bill William

    Actually they are both in the hospital.

  • Hammond Ecks

    Godspeed, Mrs. Bush. You've shared your long and wonderful life with America. Even though I've differed with your family's politics in many ways I've always respected your loyalty and devotion.

    Peace be with you.

  • DFW-Texas 🇺🇸

    This phase of her life will then be like her other phases, dignified. Thank you, Barbara, for being a wonderful stateswoman for our country, and a great role model for millions of women!

  • Peppapeace

    Loving thoughts for Mrs Bush.

  • GruntDoc68

    A great lady for sure!!!! Hope she can stay comfortable and knows she has touched many lives in a good way.

  • angelosdaughter

    I always liked and admired Barbara Bush. Wishing her a calm peaceful road with her loving family around her as her journey in this life draws near to its sunset. May she be surrounded by blessings.

  • Rubbed Sage

    Peace to the First Lady and her family. Remember the joy, the life, the love, and embrace that in your sorrow at the passing of all mortal things.

  • AlexaGuyer

    I was not and am not a fan of the Bushs' politics, but they are a family that is loyal to one another. I was especially critical of some of Mrs. Bush's actions, but just because I disagreed with her does not mean that I did not respect her, I did and do. She is going on her own terms, I would expect nothing less of her. God speed, Mrs. Bush.

  • GarfieldRocks

    Wow, 73 years.That's something to brag about.