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Evangelist Billy Graham, 93, hospitalized for possible pneumonia

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Evangelist Billy Graham, who has been in failing health in recent years, was admitted to a North Carolina hospital Wednesday with possible pneumonia.

Graham, 93, was admitted to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., for treatment and observation of his lungs, according to a statement released by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. in Charlotte, N.C. The Southern Baptist minister was alert, smiling and waving at hospital staff upon arrival, the statement said.

Graham’s personal physician, Lucian Rice, told the association that the evangelist’s condition is stable. The pulmonologist treating Graham, Mark Hellreich, said he is being tested for possible pneumonia, according to the association.

Larry Ross, Graham’s spokesman, told the Charlotte Observer that Graham recently developed a cough, congestion and slight fever. After hospital tests, doctors decided to keep him overnight for observation, Ross said.

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Graham was hospitalized for successful treatment of pneumonia in May. After his release, he resumed physical therapy and normal daily activities -- including finishing his 30th book, ‘Nearing Home,’ according to his staff. His daughter told NPR last month that Graham, who began conducting evangelistic crusades in 1948, had recently been placed on oxygen therapy.

No discharge date has been set. Graham’s association said he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his family at his home in Montreat, near Asheville.

Shortly after the association released its statement, its website received 106 comments, most of them from people praying for Graham’s recovery.

-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

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