Billy Graham is still weaker than he was at his 95th birthday party last month, but his vital signs – including heart rate and blood pressure – remain strong and he’s in no imminent danger.
That was the report Monday from Graham spokesman Mark DeMoss, who is in contact every day with David Bruce, Graham’s personal assistant, and “the closest daily source to Mr. Graham’s condition,” as DeMoss put it.
Though Graham’s condition has stayed the same for the last five weeks, DeMoss said he and those who work for his Atlanta-based public relations agency have been busy, especially in the last week, knocking down rumors that Graham is on his deathbed.
Such rumors spring up nearly every hour, DeMoss said, “and some of them come out of left field.” One TV network – he wouldn’t say which one – claimed to have seen an internal email stating that Graham had actually died last week.
DeMoss said Graham’s son, Franklin, is also in close contact with those monitoring his father’s health, and he felt confident enough about Graham’s condition that he went to Iraq last week.
“There hasn’t been a change” in Graham’s health in recent weeks, DeMoss said. “For those of us who saw Mr. Graham on his birthday, that night was the strongest he’s been since then. So it’s true that he’s been weaker in the last five weeks. But it’s also true that his vital signs are still strong.”
Added DeMoss: “He’s at home; he’s not at the hospital.”
Some of the dire headlines, including one saying Graham was “near death,” could stem from comments made by Franklin Graham and his son, Will Graham, that were interpreted in different ways by the news media.
Franklin Graham, who runs the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, posted a letter on its website asking people to pray for the Charlotte-born evangelist.
And Will Graham reportedly told the ASSIST News Service in California that his grandfather is “not suffering or anything. It’s just that old age has caught up to him and is sucking the life out of him.”
Will Graham also said his grandfather is ready to “go home” to heaven.
DeMoss said he is sensitive to family members – “this is their father and grandfather, and they’re concerned and free to say what their want in their circles.”
But he said his job is to issue official statements.
“The thing I am going to avoid is issuing any kind of daily health report unless conditions warrant it,” DeMoss said. “And so far they don’t.”