Senator Tim Johnson Receives Emergency Arterio-Venous Malformation Surgery | MedStar Health

Second Chance at Life: Senator Timothy Johnson

Share this

As a veteran senator from his beloved state of South Dakota, Tim Johnson can talk for hours about the state and people that he loves without once referring to “I” or “me.” On December 13, 2006, Sen. Johnson’s life changed irrevocably when a tangle of veins in his brain ruptured. Although he hadn’t known it, an Arterio-Venous Malformation, or AVM  —a congenital condition that causes enlarged, tangled, and weakened blood vessels had laid deep in his brain since birth.

As the nation watched and waited for word of his condition, Sen. Johnson underwent emergency surgery. And when a series of complications put his life at risk, a coma was induced. By February 2007, the Senator had improved so significantly that he was admitted to NRH. He met challenges with flexibility and a sense of humor. Although he had to learn to walk and talk all over again—he was determined to succeed. Months of hard work followed, and by August his NRH doctors gave him the thumbs-up to head back home to South Dakota.

On September 5, 2007, he returned to the Senate to a rousing welcome from his colleagues. He is dearly loved by the people of South Dakota as well as his family and friends. A lucky man, indeed, Sen. Johnson has returned to work for the people he loves and his life’s work with a renewed sense of purpose; he has landed in a place that is at once familiar and yet new and exciting, approached from an entirely fresh perspective.

Sen. Johnson’s very public journey through rehabilitation to recovery has been a source of inspiration to thousands of people. On November 4, 2007, he was unanimously re-elected to the Senate—scoring a victory not just for himself and his family, but for everyone facing the same struggle.

Latest patient stories