Former President Ronald Reagan is recovering well and was able to sit up in a chair a day after undergoing surgery on his hip Saturday, one of his doctors said.
"He remarkably was up in a chair yesterday, the first day post-op," Dr. Kevin Ehrhart, the lead surgeon during the 1.5-hour operation Saturday at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told Good Morning America today. "That's a goal you obtain about half the time. He did it on the first try."
"President Reagan remains in stable condition and has impressed doctors with his progress in the last 24 hours," Reagan spokeswoman Joanne Drake said today in her daily report from St. John's Health Center. "His appetite has increased and he has even enjoyed some ice cream, his favorite dessert."
The former president broke his right hip in a fall at his Bel-Air, Calif. home Friday afternoon.
Ehrhart said after the operation that Reagan's tissue and bone were remarkably like that of a "much younger man, which obviously helps substantially with his recovery."
However, the surgeon said, Reagan still faces a "long, uphill struggle."
The 89-year-old, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, will likely remain at the facility for seven to 10 days, as doctors monitor his recovery.
In a statement issued Sunday, President Clinton sent well-wishes to the former president and his family.
"Hillary and I are relieved that President Reagan's treatment for his injury appears to have been successful," Clinton said.
President-elect Bush called Reagan's wife, Nancy, before the surgery.
Daughter in Same Hospital
Nancy Reagan has been at her husband's side since the fall. Daughter, Patti Davis, and son, Michael Reagan, visited Saturday. Youngest son, Ron Reagan, telephoned and plans to visit his father in the hospital in the coming days, family spokeswoman Joanne Drake said.
Maureen Reagan, the 60-year-old daughter of 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, the former president's one-time deputy chief of staff, told Good Morning America today that Maureen Reagan had not yet visited her father.
"Maureen's hoping she can go up and see her father, too," Deaver said.
"Mrs. Reagan is overwhelmed and overjoyed by the outpouring of support from around the world," Drake, the family's spokeswoman said.
"The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation reports that they have received over 6,000 e-mail messages via their Web site."
Metal Plate, Screws Inserted in Hip
Under general anesthetic, the team of surgeons placed a metal plate and series of screws in the former president's right hip.
He was "very definitely" in pain before the procedure, Ehrhart said, but doctors said he was receiving medication for his discomfort.
If he progresses as his physicians hope, the former president could begin putting weight on the leg with the next few days, and perhaps begin walking again with one to two weeks.
Alzheimer's Disease May Complicate Recovery
Reagan's surgeon refused to comment directly on the former president's Alzheimer's disease, citing requests by the family.
He did acknowledge, however, that the disease could make post-operative treatment more difficult.
"I'm sure it'll complicate it more. It's a bigger challenge," Ehrhart said.
Hip Fractures Common Among Elderly