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Casey reportedly in "excellent physical condition"

| Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Robert Casey Jr. is in "excellent physical condition," but has decided not to have a blood test to determine if he carries the gene that caused the incurable disease which afflicted his late father, Gov. Robert Casey Sr.

Casey, 42, released a letter Monday from his personal physician, Dr. J. Robert Gavin of Scranton, explaining Casey's medical condition. Casey had promised to release a statement on his health and said in March he would undergo a simple test to determine if he was likely to contract familial amyloidosis, a hereditary blood disorder, which forced his father to undergo a life-saving heart and liver transplant in 1993. The elder Casey died in May 2000.

Gavin said Casey has been his patient since 1977 and has treated him for respiratory infections, a fractured nose and a ruptured Achilles tendon that he received playing basketball in 1991.

After his last physical on Sept. 13, 2001, Casey's health was excellent, Gavin said, adding he does not take any medications. Casey is 6'3" tall and weighs 210 pounds.

"His entire exam was perfectly normal with a blood pressure of 118/80," Gavin wrote. "In conclusion, Mr. Casey is in excellent physical condition. He has had numerous checkup tests performed which are all normal and do not require any type of medication nor modified activity."

Casey also has undergone heart functions tests, which were normal, a cardiac stress test that Gavin said was "normal with excellent exercise performance" and a colonoscopy. While Casey has undergone tests for cholesterol, blood glucose, liver and kidney function and prostate, he decided not to have the blood test for amyloidosis, said Karen Walsh, his campaign press secretary.

"He has other things on his mind right now," Walsh said. "That's not something he's interested in right now."

Familial amyloidosis is a rare bone marrow disease. Amyloidosis causes abnormal amounts of protein to build up in an individual's system. Normally, these proteins help a person fight infection and disease, but in large quantities, the protein is embedded in the body's organs, eventually causing death. The late Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri and Erie Mayor Louis Tullio both died of the disease. Medical statistics reveal that eight out of every 1 million people inherit familial amyloidosis.

Casey will not know if he is predisposed to the disease even though there is a 50-50 chance he has the gene. Half of those people who inherited the gene will get the disease, he said.

His father underwent the double transplant operation in June 1993 receiving organs from William Lucas, 34, of Monessen, who was beaten to death by drug dealers who mistakenly believed he had stolen drugs from them.

Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for Ed Rendell, Casey's opponent for the Democratic nomination for governor, said he did not know whether Rendell would release his medical records.

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