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Andrew Speaker Released From Hospital

Tuberculosis Patient Flies Back to Georgia; Doctors Predict Speaker Will Have a 'Full and Active' Life
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 26, 2007 -- Tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker took an air ambulance back to Georgia today after being discharged at 6 a.m. today from a Denver hospital.

Speaker, an Atlanta lawyer, got eight weeks of treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center. On July 17, Speaker had lung surgery to remove a tennis-ball sized piece of his lung that was infected by tuberculosis.

"Treatment for Mr. Speaker went very well, and we were able to release him more quickly than we originally anticipated," says Gwen Huitt, MD, in a National Jewish Medical and Research Center news release.

Speaker's TB treatment isn't over yet. He'll keep taking antibiotics for two years, though his TB is no longer detectable and isn't contagious.

"Although we believe there are still a few tuberculosis bacteria in his lungs, ongoing antibiotic therapy should kill those. We expect him to return to a full and active life," says Huitt, who directs the Adult Infectious Disease Care Center at National Jewish Medical and Research Center.

Andrew Speaker Speaks Out

Speaker was recently in the headlines when the CDC ordered him into medical isolation after he and his bride took two transatlantic flights.

At the time, Speaker was believed to have extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB). But on July 3, Speaker's tuberculosis diagnosis was changed to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB).

"I really appreciate the quality of care I have gotten from all the people at National Jewish," says Speaker in today's news release from National Jewish Medical and Research Center. "Thanks to all they do, patients like me are able to walk out of here not only well, but better in so many ways."

Speaker's parents met him when the air ambulance landed in Georgia and drove him to an undisclosed location, according to National Jewish.

Speaker was free to take a commercial flight home to Georgia. "But given the extraordinary attention he has received, everyone involved in the case agreed that it would be better to return home via air ambulance so as not to raise any undue public alarm," says National Jewish.

Tomorrow, Speaker is to report to county health officials in Georgia to begin two years of directly observed therapy to make sure he fully completes his treatment. He will likely also return to National Jewish several months from now for a follow-up evaluation, but those plans aren't set.

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