Nearly a year after a life-saving lung transplant, U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood is still on the road to recovery - and now he's hitting the road in his 9th Congressional District.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., discusses organ transplants with Charlotte Smith, of Evans, after speaking at the Columbia County Republican Party's monthly breakfast at The Peppermill restaurant. Norwood, a lung-transplant recipient, also talked about issues ranging from trade to John Bolton's appointment to the United Nations.
Photo by Barry Paschal
With a cloth-wrapped oxygen tank close at hand, Norwood spoke Aug. 19 at the Columbia County Republican Party's monthly breakfast at The Peppermill restaurant in Evans, discussing a wide range of issues from budgetary pork to immigration control.
But before listing accomplishments and concerns from the recent congressional session, Norwood delivered a report on his health.
October will mark one year since his single-lung transplant to counteract the effects of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Norwood said he'd planned to be rid of the oxygen tank by now, but that his diaphragm is healing more slowly than expected. As a result, he'll keep the tubes running to his nose at least through Christmas.
"With the good Lord's help, by then we'll be back to 100 percent," Norwood said.
The tour is the congressman's second extended visit to the district since the surgery in October 2004 in Virginia, and takes place during the Congressional Labor Day recess.
Norwood wrapped up his opening remarks to the group by urging them to be organ donors.
"There are 1,600 Georgians right now who need organ transplants," Norwood said, noting that potential donors should discuss the issue with their families long before the possibility of a donation arises.
"The person who gave me a lung saved my life and four others that night," he said.
Other than offering reassurance about his health, Norwood delivered a rapid-fire, wide-ranging rundown of Congressional issues:
- He voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, later signed into law by President Bush. CAFTA is "bad law," and represents unfair trade, Norwood said.
- His work on comprehensive reform of immigration laws is moving forward, with pieces attached to other bills, Norwood said. Many of the audience's questions after Norwood's remarks focused on illegal immigration, and he said, "Our immigration system is broken at every level."
- The recently passed transportation bill, although loaded with "pork," provides $34 million in new federal funds to the 9th District, Norwood said, and increases the return on federal fuel taxes to the district from 90 percent to 92 percent.
Included in that bill is funding for studies on the proposed Interstates 3 and 14, which would run from Savannah to Knoxville, Tenn., and from Augusta to southern Mississippi.
- The recently passed energy bill, Norwood said, has "nothing in there that's going to lower your gas prices. We should have worried about that 20 years ago when we stopped building refineries."
- Congress is taking steps toward tort reform, Norwood said, but the effort has so far been "unimpressive."
- Congress also is working on reform of the United Nations, starting with President Bush's recess appointment of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, with whom Norwood "is delighted."
"My suggestion to the president was that we take that organization, move it to France and let them deal with it," he said, drawing laughter from the group.
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