LOS ANGELES — Former President Bill Clinton was seen leaving an Orange County hospital Sunday morning, six days after he was admitted and treated for a urological and blood infection.
The 75-year-old is flying to New York with his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and his daughter, Chelsea, according to an aide. Upon landing, Clinton will head to their family home in Chappaqua, about 30 miles north of New York City.
“His fever and white blood cell count are normalized and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics,” said Dr. Alpesh N. Amin, who lead the team of doctors who treated Clinton. “On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress.”
Clinton walked out of the hospital with his wife shortly after 8 a.m., shook hands with Amin and flashed a thumbs-up at photographers gathered there.
The former president has been a globetrotting celebrity and philanthropist since leaving the White House in 2001, raising millions for his family’s nonprofit Clinton Foundation and getting paid handsomely to speak.
Clinton was in Southern California last week — his first trip to the West Coast since the pandemic — to speak at a foundation reception and dinner on Thursday. Hillary Clinton flew to California on Thursday to take his place at the event and to be with him at the hospital. Chelsea Clinton showed up at the medical center Saturday. The family spent time together catching up, and the former president also spoke with friends and watched college football.
On Tuesday, while visiting longtime friends in Orange County, the former president felt fatigued and was admitted to the intensive care unit at UC Irvine Medical Center that evening.
Clinton was diagnosed with a urological infection that turned into a blood infection, aides said. Though some media outlets said Clinton had sepsis — a life-threatening response by the body to an infection that can result in tissue damage and organ failure — aides said the former president was never in septic shock, the most severe and deadly stage of sepsis.
He was cared for in the intensive care unit because of concerns about COVID-19, an aide added.
Clinton was recovering well and was kept in the hospital over the weekend for continued intravenous treatment, said spokesman Angel Ureña.
“He is in great spirits,” Ureña said on Saturday. “He is deeply grateful for the excellent care he continues to receive and thankful to the many well-wishers who have sent kind words to him and his family. He’s looking forward to getting home very soon.”
President Joe Biden talked to Clinton on Friday.
“We’re all thinking about President Clinton today. He’s always been the comeback kid,” Biden said during a speech at the University of Connecticut, a reference to Clinton’s surprise showing in the New Hampshire primary in 1992 that launched his bid for the presidency.
Biden later told reporters that he and the former president planned to get together, “and for him to come over and have some lunch and talk.”
Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, was known as the first baby boomer president and served two terms in the White House from 1993 to 2001.
He was a moderate Democrat whose signature accomplishments included the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Brady Bill that required background checks for handgun purchases.
The first president to sign a balanced budget in decades, Clinton entered office with a $255 billion budget deficit and left office with a $182 billion budget surplus.
But his tenure was clouded by controversy, notably allegations of financial and sexual impropriety. He faced impeachment proceedings stemming from his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (While the House of Representatives voted in favor of impeaching Clinton, the Senate acquitted him.)
Some parts of his legacy became deeply unpopular among later generations of Democrats, such as the 1994 crime bill that increased funding for police departments and penalties for federal crimes, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay members of the military and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Since leaving office, Clinton has made millions of dollars on the speaking circuit while also raising hundreds of millions for his foundation’s charitable efforts, such as training rural farmers in Africa, developing renewable energy projects in island nations and lowering the cost of HIV/AIDS medicine around the world.
He also partnered with Republicans, notably the late former President George H.W. Bush, on fundraising efforts to benefit survivors of an Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 Americans in 2005. Clinton had defeated Bush in 1992.
Clinton remained a prominent voice in Democratic politics — most vocally during his wife’s presidential runs in 2008 and 2016. He occasionally caused controversy, such as when he said during his wife’s primary fight with Barack Obama: “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” (Clinton had said he was referring to Obama’s stance on the Iraq War, but it was viewed in some quarters as an inappropriate racial remark.)
The men reconciled, and Clinton was described as the “explainer in chief” as he delivered a rousing speech calling for Obama’s reelection during the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
While the man nicknamed “Big Dog” was once one of the most popular Democrats on the stump — appearing at more than 100 campaign events during the 2010 midterm elections — he has not been as visible on the campaign trail in recent years. Democratic insiders attribute his absence to the #MeToo movement as well as his advancing age.
Clinton has a history of health troubles, notably his struggles with his weight and high cholesterol, born of his taste for unhealthy food. He would jog to McDonald’s as a presidential candidate in 1992.
Hillary Clinton told The New York Times in 1992 that her influence on her husband’s diet was “less than I would like.”
But after a series of major health issues — notably quadruple coronary bypass surgery in 2004 and the insertion of two stents in 2010 — Clinton adopted a vegan diet with the exception of a piece of salmon or an omelet once a week.