Image: Andrew Speaker
William Alsetter  /  AP
Andrew Speaker was released Thursday from Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center after successfully completing treatment for tuberculosis.
updated 7/26/2007 2:36:19 PM ET 2007-07-26T18:36:19

The tuberculosis patient who created an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding was released from a hospital Thursday after successfully completing inpatient treatment, officials said.

Andrew Speaker, an Atlanta attorney who had a multidrug-resistant strain of TB, underwent surgery July 17 to remove a diseased portion of his right lung.

The doctors who treated him at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver don’t consider him to be completely cured, but the lung operation and antibiotic treatments “have eliminated any detectable evidence of infection,” the hospital said.

Speaker, who spent eight weeks in the hospital, will still need to continue antibiotic treatment for about two years.

Hospital spokesman William Allstetter said Thursday that Speaker had left Denver in an air ambulance and returned to Georgia to recuperate. He would not specify where except to say that Speaker was not in a hospital. Speaker, reached by telephone Thursday, declined to comment.

“He arrived there safely and he is happy to be home,” Allstetter said.

Speaker is not contagious and could have flown by commercial airliner, but “everyone involved in the case” decided the air ambulance was a better choice because of the attention the case has attracted, the hospital said.

Treatment will be monitored
Allstetter said Speaker is no longer under an isolation order but was instructed to check in with county health officials in Georgia. As with other TB patients, a health worker must watch Speaker take his drugs to make sure he stays on the five-days-a-week regimen, he said.

Federal health officials worked with the Denver hospital to develop a plan to monitor Speaker’s treatment, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Tom Skinner said.

Speaker became the focus of a federal investigation and prompted an international uproar in May when he went ahead with the wedding trip after health officials said they had advised him not to fly. CDC officials notified him while he was there that tests indicated he had extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis; later tests found only the less dangerous multidrug-resistant TB.

Rather than check into a European hospital, Speaker flew to Canada, drove across the border and turned himself in at a U.S. hospital. For a few days, he held the designation as the first American quarantined by the federal government since 1963. He was transferred to National Jewish on May 31.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

Almost all the U.S. passengers who were with Speaker on a May 12 flight from Atlanta to Paris have been contacted, and preliminary tests found no sign they were infected. However, not all of those passengers have gone back for the necessary follow-up tests that would provide conclusive results, Skinner said. The Speakers were the only Americans on the May 24 flight.

Patient recovered quickly
Speaker was in good health, aside from the TB, so he has had a fairly quick recovery after surgery, hospital officials said.

“His case quite honestly wasn’t nearly as complicated as many that we’ve had,” said Dr. Gwen Huitt, director of the hospital’s infectious disease unit.

Speaker never developed a cough or a fever and kept in good shape mentally and physically by reading, responding to correspondence and riding an exercise bike in his hospital room, Huitt said.

“Although we believe there are still a few tuberculosis bacteria in his lungs, ongoing antibiotic therapy should kill those,” Huitt said. “We expect him to return to a full and active life.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments