December 25, 2014 / 2:33 AM / 5 years ago

Former President George H.W. Bush spends Christmas in hospital

Former President George H. W. Bush applauds during an event to honor the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House in Washington in this file photo from July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

(Reuters) - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush remained hospitalized on Thursday near his home in Houston after experiencing shortness of breath this week, and was in “great spirits,” his spokesman said.

Bush, 90, was taken by ambulance to Houston Methodist Hospital on Tuesday. Spokesman Jim McGrath said on Wednesday that the 41st president’s prognosis was positive and that he remained hospitalized as a precaution.

“President Bush had another terrific day and is in great spirits,” McGrath said on Thursday in an emailed statement.

Bush’s wife, Barbara, as well as son Neil and daughter-in-law Maria Bush visited the former president, McGrath said.

“He asked that his sincere wishes for a very Merry Christmas be extended to one and all,” McGrath said, adding that Bush will remain at the hospital Thursday evening.

The latest health scare comes two years after Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993, was admitted to the same hospital for treatment of bronchitis and related ailments.

Bush spent seven weeks recuperating and became so ill he was believed at one point to be near death.

The former Republican president suffers from Parkinson’s disease and cannot use his legs. But he celebrated his 90th birthday on June 12 by skydiving in Kennebunkport, Maine, with the Army’s Golden Knight parachute team.

His eldest son, former President George W. Bush, this year published a best-selling book about his father, titled “41 - A Portrait of My Father.”

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler and Eric Walsh

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