Duckworth releases years of medical records, in contrast to Kirk

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Rep. Tammy Duckworth on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war vet, on Friday released detailed medical and military service records going back years, showing her main health issue is high blood pressure.

Indeed, Duckworth’s medical records, given by her campaign to the Chicago Sun-Times, chart her physical saga from Nov. 14, 2004, when she lost both legs and shattered her right arm after her helicopter was shot down, to the cesarean section birth of her daughter in 2014, to her last physical on July 18.

The Illinois Senate contest is unique in that Duckworth and rival Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill., are disabled and use wheelchairs and canes.

Kirk suffered a stroke to the right brain on Jan. 21, 2012, which kept him out of the Capitol almost a full year. Kirk’s penchant for provocative statements has raised questions about his judgment.

Kirk’s campaign on Sept. 14 released a one-page letter from his brain surgeon – not his primary care physician – declaring Kirk has made a “full cognitive recovery” from his stroke. The letter also noted he has occasional halting speech, no use of an arm and limited use of a leg.

Kirk, 57, did not volunteer results from his last physical, or offer a report with his vital signs and lab results, or a list of medications, if any, he was taking.

Duckworth is a clear contrast with Kirk on the candor and transparency front with the disclosure of 215 pages of official records detailing Duckworth’s time in the military as well as medical reports about her grisly injuries.

Politically, this comes as Duckworth’s team is reviving the 2010 issue of Kirk’s embellishments about his career in the Navy Reserve. Kirk’s camp is raising questions about her tenure as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates resident, receives her medical care at the west suburban Hines VA Hospital.

Though Duckworth suffered a horrendous trauma in 2004, her 2016 physical exam reveals no serious issues. Duckworth, who walks using prosthetics, has, according to the medical reports, at times felt phantom leg and foot pain.

Duckworth’s recovery was powered by her determination, with a Feb. 15, 2005 Occupational Therapy progress report noting Duckworth “continues to be very motivated, taking a lot of initiative in her care.”

According to Duckworth’s Hines medical records, as of July 18 her blood pressure was 136/74, which is considered high. Her medications consist of Labetalol, a common drug to control blood pressure and a multivitamin.

Other vital statistics: pulse rate, 67/min; respiration, 18/min; temperature 98.4 degrees F; pain level, 0; height, 66 inches; weight, 145 pounds; pulse-oximetry, 98 percent.

Duckworth’s lab results: total cholesterol, 203 mg/dL, which is listed as “high” on her report; HDL cholesterol, 59 mg/dL; LDL cholesterol, 134 mg/dL.

Duckworth was strong and healthy enough to have a baby at the age of 46. In November 2014, medical records state after starting off in labor, at some point Duckworth’s progression stopped and her daughter Abigail was born through a C-section.

Duckworth did not seek a letter from her Hines VA primary doctor summarizing her health because “we are not going to ask a federal employee to participate in the campaign. It’s not that individual’s doctor’s role,” said Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath.

Instead, the campaign issued a letter by Dr. Stephen Ondra, a friend, a donor to Duckworth and other Democrats and former Chief Medical Officer of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. After reviewing her records, Ondra wrote Duckworth “has no medical limitations” that would prevent her service as a senator.

Of the 215 pages of records, 51 pages were Army personnel records, detailing Duckworth’s career in the Illinois National Guard and active duty service in Iraq and Kuwait.

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