UPDATED 01/06/10 5:55 p.m.
KANKAKEE, Ill. (CBS) — One day after his wife was hospitalized in intensive care for a severe infection, former Gov. George Ryan was still waiting to hear if he can leave prison temporarily to be at her side.
Lura Lynn Ryan went into a Kanakee hospital on Wednesday after becoming gravely ill with sepsis, a severe blood infection that resulted from chemotherapy and radiation treatment for her lung cancer.
George Ryan’s attorneys have asked federal prison officials to let him out of prison temporarily to visit her in the hospital. As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, they were still awaiting word on that request as of Thursday afternoon.
Doctors have said Lura Lynn Ryan is gravely ill and likely has, at most, two weeks to live. Much of her family is at her bedside at the Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee.
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“She has a lot of cancer, and she has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy even at her age, in what I regard as sort of a desperate attempt to stay alive to see her husband,” said James Thompson, Ryan’s attorney and fellow former Illinois governor.
In an interview with CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis in December, Lura Lynn Ryan said she hoped to see her husband one last time before she dies.
“I love him and miss him with all my heart,” she said. “I want him to come home soon.”
Her condition was already serious and swiftly deteriorating when Lura Lynn Ryan spoke to reporters on the day her husband was denied early release from prison to be at her bedside.
“I was very strong,” she said at the time. “I have been throughout the whole thing I have great faith in the lord, evidently he hasn’t been listening.”
Whether Lura Lynn’s dying wish to see her husband of 50 years one final time stands a chance of coming true is unclear.
In order for that to happen, George Ryan will have to be released temporarily from prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
Thompson has filed an emergency motion with the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which is hearing an appeal of George Ryan’s corruption convictions, seeking bail pending a hearing on his appeal, so that he can visit his wife in the hospital.
U.S. prison officials are also considering a request to release Ryan temporarily on mercy grounds.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer denied a request to release Ryan early last month, shortly after doctors revealed Lura Lynn might have only a few months to live.
But Thompson wants what he says federal inmates are allowed by law. He says former Gov. Ryan is not asking for special treatment.
“She’s in critical condition, and the family is in Kankakee to be with her, and her one hope is that her husband can come to her bedside,” Thompson said.
If Ryan is furloughed, Thompson says the convicted governor could spend nights in the Kankakee County jail and days at his wife’s bedside in the intensive care unit.
“I love him. I miss him with all my heart, and I want him to please come home soon,” she said. “One day we’ll be back together the way we should be and have a happy life together.”
George Ryan was convicted of racketeering and fraud in 2006, and was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Judge Pallmeyer has said that Ryan basically took bribes, was convicted and must pay for that. She did say, though, that this case is a sad one.
In the meantime the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is expected to begin considering on Friday whether to reverse last month’s decision keeping Ryan in prison for the remainder of his sentence, or whether to set him free on bail while they consider whether to overturn part of his conviction.