US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Transferred to Critical Care Unit for ‘Close Monitoring’ Weeks After Cancer Surgery

The defense secretary was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday

<p> Win McNamee/Getty </p>  Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Win McNamee/Getty

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is under critical care weeks after undergoing surgery for early prostate cancer.

Austin, 70, was hospitalized on Sunday after suffering an “emergent bladder issue” and will remain there until his health issues are resolved, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement.

“Earlier today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” the Pentagon said.

“Tonight, after a series of tests and evaluations, the Secretary was admitted into the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for supportive care and close monitoring.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Auston is under "critical" care following a bladder issues, the Pentagon confirmed Sunday
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Auston is under "critical" care following a bladder issues, the Pentagon confirmed Sunday

Related: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Was Treated for Early Prostate Cancer in December, Says Pentagon

However, the statement added that Austin’s cancer prognosis “remains excellent."

“At this time, it is not clear how long Secretary Austin will remain hospitalized. The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery,” the Pentagon continued. “His cancer prognosis remains excellent. Updates on the Secretary's condition will be provided as soon as possible.”

On Dec. 22, Austin entered Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a “minimally invasive surgical procedure” after being diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier in the month, the Pentagon announced at the time.

Related: Lloyd Austin, Avril Haines and Janet Yellen Make History Being Confirmed for Biden’s Cabinet

Austin returned to the center on Jan. 1 after experiencing “nausea with severe abdominal, hip, and leg pain” due to a urinary tract infection following the surgery, where he remained under “close monitoring” until his infection cleared.

The defense secretary’s most recent hospitalization comes after addressing the privacy kept over his health issues earlier this month.

"We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right," Austin said during a press conference on Feb. 1, speaking for the first time since his surgery. He added that his cancer diagnosis was a “gut punch.”

"I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis, and should also have told my team and the American public. I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people," he continued.

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Following his hospitalization over the weekend, Austin has passed his duties on to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder said, per NBC News. The White House, Joint Chiefs and Congress were also notified.

Speaking on Feb. 1, Austin rectified his mistake in not informing the White House of his prior hospitalization and health issues.

“I’ve learned from this experience that taking this kind of job means losing some of the privacy that most of us expect,” the defense secretary said. “The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that might affect their ability to perform their duties, even temporarily. So a wider circle should have been notified, especially the president.”

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