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Jackson at Mayo Clinic for ‘depression and gastrointestinal issues’

U.S. Rep. Jesse JacksJr. (D-2nd)

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd)

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Updated: October 2, 2012 1:45PM

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been on medical leave from Congress for more than six weeks, is now being treated at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota “ for extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues.”

The latest version of Jackson’s malady came from a statement released by the famed clinic on behalf of the South Side Democrat.

The new information was released late Friday, after the Chicago Sun-Times reported exclusively that Jackson had been transferred to the Mayo Clinic, which bills itself as a “worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life.”

It is ranked as one of the nation’s top psychiatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.

Sources told the Sun-Times that Jackson, 46, had been receiving treatment in Tucson, Ariz., before being flown by private plane Wednesday night to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Previously, aides to the congressman son of Rainbow/PUSH founder the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., had only said that Jackson was being treated for a “mood disorder” at an undisclosed location.

Jackson’s office has been releasing incremental bits of information on his condition and whereabouts since June 25, when a three-sentence statement was released saying he had taken a medical leave for “exhaustion” starting two weeks earlier on June 10.

Two weeks later, on July 5, a five-sentence statement said he had checked himself in for treatment of long-term “physical and emotional ailments.”

A week later, on July 11, another brief release stated he was being treated for a “mood disorder.”

And on Friday, the Mayo Clinic posted the following information:

“Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has arrived at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues.

“Further information will be released as Congressman Jackson’s evaluation proceeds.

“Congressman Jackson and his family are grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers that have been received throughout his care.”

Jackson easily won a Democratic primary election in March, though an aide said he struggled to sleep as the campaign wore on. Jackson faces Republican Brian Woodworth and independent Marcus Lewis in the Nov. 6 general election

Jackson’s “gastrointestinal issues” date back more than seven years.

Jackson not only had difficulty with his weight — he was unwilling in 2005 to tell the truth about his remarkable and swift loss, aided by a surgical procedure he underwent in 2004, called a “duodenal switch,” which involves removing a large section of his digestive tract.

When he quickly trimmed down in 2005, Jackson misled two Sun-Times reporters about how he achieved the loss. At the Congressional Dinner in 2005, he told the Sun-Times he dropped the pounds through a strictly limited diet and a lot of exercise. He offered even more details about his new routine to another Sun-Times reporter for a story. In both cases he omitted the crucial detail — that he had surgical procedure to quick start his weight loss. At the time, Jackson was proud of his new body. Rather than just decline to give personal details about his loss, he spun a story that just was not true.

When Jackson finally revealed the truth in a letter to the Sun-Times, he said the duodenal switch he underwent in December 2004 was a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, not a “gastrointestinal bypass.”

Generally, the duodenal switch includes removing part of the stomach and reconfiguring the intestine to use only three feet of the small bowel to absorb the food a person eats, essentially limiting how much a person can eat.

But after Jackson had the surgery, one surgeon told the Sun-Times that the duodenal procedure also is “more risky and more technically difficult” than other weight-loss procedures.

“It’s an operation like gastrointestinal bypass, but much more powerful,” San Francisco-based surgeon Dr. Paul Cirangle said then. “There is a risk for long-term ramifications including vitamin deficiency and protein malnutrition.”

Most patients at Mayo Clinic’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology are treated on an outpatient basis. Several inpatient programs are offered at the 108-bed Psychiatry Treatment Center that adjoins Saint Marys Hospital.

Around the same time he was taking a medical leave from his job as a congressman, Jackson’s friend and fund-raiser Raghuveer Nayak was arrested as part of an unrelated alleged fraud scheme.

Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was caught on a secretly recorded FBI tape saying that Nayak, acting as an emissary for Jackson, had made what Blagojevich believed was a $1.5 million offer in exchange for a hoped-for appointment by the governor to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama following his 2008 election as president.

Jackson has repeatedly denied he authorized anyone to approach Blagojevich on his behalf and has never been charged.

But he is facing a House Ethics Committee investigation concerning allegations tied to the Blagojevich case.

Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) admitted to a rough spot in the couple’s marriage two years ago after Nayak was revealed to have paid for plane tickets for a “social acquaintance” of her husband so the congressman could rendezvous with the woman.

Jackson’s mother, Jacqueline Jackson, told a Rainbow/PUSH conference in Chicago earlier this month her son was depressed.

“I’m not ashamed to say ... he thought he was going to be a senator. He thought he was going to have a chance to run for mayor. And young people don’t bounce back from disappointment like me and my husband,” she said. “My son is unwell, and he needs a moment to heal. And I ask you to pray for me without cease. Do for me what I’ve done for you. I want you to respect that. Give us a moment. Most of all for him.”

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