Senator Kennedy Collapses at Inaugural Luncheon

Allison Gandey

January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009 — Sen. Edward Kennedy collapsed during the Inaugural luncheon for President Barack Obama today, according to news reports.

Sen. Edward Kennedy

Sen. Kennedy appeared to be having a seizure when he was taken from the room by medical personnel. The Massachusetts senator is undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor and was attending a luncheon this afternoon honoring the new president.

Sen. Kennedy was reportedly taken by ambulance to Washington Hospital Center.

Some say Sen. Robert Byrd also experienced medical difficulties today and was helped from the room. But other reports say he merely left over concern for his long-time friend.

President Obama began his speech at the luncheon by talking about "Teddy."

"Right now part of me is with him," President Obama reportedly told attendees. "It's a joyous time, but it's also a sobering time," he added. "Our prayers are with him and his family."

Sen. Kennedy, 76, started experiencing adult-onset seizures, which led to his cancer diagnosis. He underwent brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center in June and returned to the US Capitol in November.

Sen. Kennedy is the second-most senior member of the Senate after Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Sen. Byrd, 91, is the first politician in US history to serve as a senator for a state for 50 years uninterrupted. He is president pro tempore of the United States Senate, a position that puts him third in the line of presidential succession behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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