Health and Medical History of PresidentRonald Reagan: Temporary Transfer of Power
A 1984 proctoscopic examination disclosed a small polyp in Reagan's colon. Biopsy showed it was benign. In March 1985, another polyp was found, as were trace amounts of blood in his stool. A change in Reagan's diet eliminated the blood. He underwent endoscopic removal of the polyp and colonoscopy on July 12, 1985, at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Colonoscopy disclosed a second, more dangerous tumor -- a villous adenoma -- that could only be removed by surgery. 1a
Although Nancy Reagan apparently preferred to delay surgery until the following week on the advice of her astrologer, Reagan preferred to have the surgery the next day -- to avoid having to repeat the colonic preparation 1b
The operation lasted 2 hours and 53 minutes. The right-sided portion of Reagan's colon was removed -- about 2 feet of length. Exploration of other abdominal structures found no spread of the cancer. The tumor was ultimately classified as a "Duke's B," meaning it had invaded the muscle of the colon, but was confined to the bowel wall 1c Post-operatively, one of the surgeons remarked about the then-74-year-old President: "This man has the insides of a forty year old" 2a. Reagan left the hospital on July 20 3.
As a result of the surgery, Reagan transferred Presidential power to Vice President Bush for 7 hours and 50 minutes BELOW 1d. It is often written that Reagan invoked section 3 of the 25th Amendment to make this transfer, but he did not explicitly invoke the Amendment 1e.
With the letter below, Reagan temporarily transferred Presidential power to Vice President George H.W. Bush on July 13, 1985. Bush held power from 11:28 a.m. until 7:22 p.m. that day. 3
July 13, 1985 Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)Reagan reasserted power with the following letter:
July 13, 1985Identical copies of both letters were sent to Strom Thurmond, President pro tempore of the Senate, and Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives.