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updated: 1/30/2012 1:15 PM

Kirk upgraded to "fair" condition

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and Projects Writer

Northwestern Memorial Hospital doctors say U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a stroke and underwent two surgeries last week, has been upgraded to fair condition.

He remains in the intensive care unit, where he previously was in serious condition.

"Sen. Kirk's recovery is continuing. He is alert, talking and responding well to questions," Dr. Richard Fessler said in a statement.

"We are very pleased with his progress," Fessler added.

Kirk received a visit from West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin over the weekend, after which Manchin expressed optimism about a quicker-than-expected recovery for Kirk.

Manchin and Kirk dine together each week when they are in Washington D.C. During last week's State of the Union address, he left the seat beside him empty in Kirk's honor.

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