- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) Two days after surgery to repair his broken hip, former President Ronald Reagan sat up in a chair yesterday and indulged in a dish of ice cream in what his doctors called a remarkable rebound from a major operation.

"President Reagan remains in stable condition and has impressed doctors with his progress in the last 24 hours," Reagan Chief of Staff Joanne Drake said in her daily report from St. John's Health Center.

Mr. Reagan, who is 89 and has Alzheimer's disease, fell Friday at his Bel Air home. A pin, plate and screws were used to repair the joint in a 65-minute operation Saturday at St. John's Health Center.

"He sat up in a chair on Sunday afternoon, has already done so this morning and will be encouraged to do so again this afternoon," Miss Drake said. "His appetite has increased and he has even enjoyed some ice cream, his favorite dessert."

Former first lady Nancy Reagan has been with Mr. Reagan since the fall "and is actively participating in his physical-therapy sessions," Miss Drake said. "She is encouraged by his progress, but has been advised by the doctors to remain cautious in her optimism."

There was no elaboration on that point, but orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Ehrhart said hours after the surgery that Mr. Reagan faces months of difficult physical therapy and a "long, uphill struggle" to recovery.

Miss Drake said Mr. Reagan is taking very little pain medication, which with his ability to sit in a chair quickly after the surgery were seen as good signs.

Get-well wishes have poured in from around the world, Miss Drake said, including messages from President Clinton, former Presidents George Bush and Gerald R. Ford, President-elect George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

Mr. Reagan's son Michael and daughter Patti Davis visited their father on Saturday and son Ron was expected within a few days.

Maureen Reagan, the 60-year-old daughter of Mr. Reagan and actress Jane Wyman, has been undergoing cancer treatment at the same hospital since Dec. 11. Her husband, Dennis Revell, said she was "hanging in there."

Michael Deaver, a former deputy chief of staff for Mr. Reagan, told ABC yesterday that Maureen Reagan had not yet visited her father.

"Maureen's hoping she can go up and see her father, too," Mr. Deaver said.

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