Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Announcing That He Would Undergo Surgery.

October 05, 1965

AT THE RANCH on September 7, I felt some pains in my stomach which seemed to be the result of something I had eaten. The White House Physician, Dr. Burkley, examined me early that morning and, because of the location of the pains, suspected gall bladder trouble. He suggested that X-rays be taken after my return to Washington.

The X-rays were made that week. Dr. Burkley informed me that they indicated a poorly functioning gall bladder. A thorough examination showed this to be the only trouble. A second series of X-rays was taken. The films were forwarded to my family physician of many years, Dr. James Cain, at the Mayo Clinic. After thorough study by Dr. Cain and Mayo radiologists, they confirmed Dr. Burkley's initial judgment of a poorly functioning gall bladder with stones.

After further consultation, the doctors recommended that the gall bladder be removed. I will, therefore, enter Bethesda Naval Hospital Thursday night for surgery Friday.

I have discussed this with the Vice President, members of the Cabinet, my White House staff, leaders in Congress, and General Eisenhower. I have informed them that the doctors expect there will be minimal time during which I will not be conducting business as usual.

As you know, the Vice President and I shortly after the election agreed to adhere to certain procedures in the event of Presidential inability. These procedures are identical with those which President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon and President Kennedy and I adopted. Bill Moyers will give you copies.

While I do not anticipate the need for Presidential decision, or actions during the short time that I shall not be available for the purpose, the Cabinet, and particularly the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, as well as my White House staff, will always be in contact with the Vice President. The Vice President will be here in Washington Friday. These men have been a party to and participated thoroughly in all major policy decisions. They are fully and currently informed.

The public will, of course, be kept fully and currently advised of my progress.

Note: The President entered the Bethesda Naval Hospital on October 7. The operation was performed the next day by Dr. George Hallenbeck and Dr. Ormond Culp, both of the Mayo Clinic. Five hours later the President was able to stand. The next morning the President walked about his room. He returned to the White House on October 21.

On November 19, 1965, the White House made public a statement signed by the President's physicians, Dr. James C. Cain and Dr. George G. Burkley, following an examination of the President. The statement said in part, "We feel the President to be recuperating in a very satisfactory manner. It is now six weeks since the date of the operation and he has been out of the hospital for a month...

"We suggested that the President continue to follow a graduated exercise program trying to obtain adequate rest and limit his activities until the first of the year. His physical examination at this time was satisfactory in every way. There remains some sensitivity in the scar area which is to be expected at this time following an operation." (1 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs., p. 522).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Announcing That He Would Undergo Surgery. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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