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updated: 1/25/2012 7:23 PM

Kirk holding his own after stroke

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U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's doctor said Wednesday that the Highland Park Republican is progressing but remains in serious condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"Sen. Kirk is progressing as expected and we continue to be hopeful about his long-term prognosis," Dr. Richard Fessler said, adding that Kirk "is being monitored closely."

Kirk suffered a stroke over the weekend and had surgery Sunday to temporarily remove a 4- by 8-inch segment of his skull to relieve pressure from swelling in his brain.

On Tuesday, Fessler reported Kirk was alert and asking for his mobile phone, a wish that doctors did not grant. Fessler said he's optimistic Kirk will recover his full mental abilities, but said the senator is less likely to regain full function in his left arm and leg, even with rehabilitation.

A seat in the U.S. House was left empty for Kirk Tuesday night during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. The seat was next to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who lunches with Kirk each Thursday and who had planned to sit with him for the speech.

Obama didn't mention Kirk in the address.

Kirk won his Senate seat in the 2010 election after serving 10 years in Congress from the North suburban 10th District.

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