Dr. Rebecca Kurth in New York City wrote in a four-page letter that she found the 62-year-old heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity to be in “excellent health” in an annual checkup Thursday.
It follows widespread alarm over Fetterman’s diminished mental-processing after a recent stroke, and other health-related issues—including struggles with morbid obesity and a mysterious lump on the back of his head—that could render him unfit to hold office.
In the wake of a contentious primary season that left him trailing in the polls, Oz recently has begun to close the gap—in no small part due to the series of garbled speeches that suggest Fetterman’s condition is worse than his campaign is acknowledging.
Oz also has pressed Fetterman to debate him before the early voting is underway, although the far-left lieutenant governor has agreed only to a late October debate, right before Election Day.
The letter from Oz’s physician noted that he has a total cholesterol level that is “borderline elevated” but can be addressed by diet, and referenced that in 2010 he had a polyp — a growth that sometimes can become cancerous—removed from his colon.
An electrocardiogram—a test that records electrical signals in the heart to detect heart problems—he had Thursday came out normal.
“Your examination is healthy, and the blood tests are favorable,” Kurth wrote. She recommended no medication.
Fetterman, 53, has been silent about releasing medical records or providing access for reporters to question his doctors, now more than four months after he suffered a stroke in May that has had lingering effects on his speech and hearing.
Two editorial boards, of the Washington Post and the Pittsburgh Post–Gazette, have called for Fetterman to release medical records after his refusal to debate Oz more than once. The Post-Gazette said that should include cognitive tests and making his doctors available to reporters.
It said Oz should release his medical records, too—a request to which Oz quickly agreed.
Fetterman’s campaign did not immediately comment Friday. He has been receiving speech therapy and, in June, his campaign released a letter from his cardiologist saying that Fetterman will be fine and able to serve in the Senate if he eats healthy foods, takes prescribed medication and exercises.
Fetterman maintains that doctors expect him to make a full recovery from the stroke and that he is quickly improving, cognitively unaffected and maintaining the healthiest habits of his life.
The race in the presidential battleground to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey could help determine control of the closely divided Senate, and Democrats view it as perhaps their best opportunity to pick up a seat out of just a handful of close races nationally.
While it is customary for presidential candidates to release health records, there is no such custom in races for the U.S. Senate. Some U.S. senators have, in the past, released medical records when running for president.
In a statement, Oz said “voters should have full transparency when it comes to the health status of candidates running for office.”
Oz, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, also has questioned Fetterman’s truthfulness in disclosing the effects of his stroke.
Fetterman suffered the stroke on May 13, four days before he easily won his Democratic primary. His victory came hours after he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. Three weeks after the stroke, Fetterman revealed that he had “almost died” and his cardiologist’s letter disclosed he had a serious and potentially fatal heart condition.
Fetterman has been campaigning and speaking at public events, but speaks haltingly at times, garbles an occasional word and struggles to hear through background noise and quickly process what he’s hearing.
At their Oct. 25 debate, Fetterman will receive closed-captioning, although the candidates are still negotiating other terms. Oz is pushing to expand it to 90 minutes, from 60 minutes, to account for any delays from closed captioning.
Publicly, top Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have sought to calm party nerves over Fetterman’s condition, saying they are confident he is capable of serving.
Still, Fetterman has given reporters limited access to question him directly, doing just a few interviews since the stroke, all through video with closed-captioning to help him with auditory processing.
In a 2016 Senate contest in Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth released years of medical records when there were questions about the fitness of Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who had suffered a stroke in 2012.
Kirk was still suffering the effects of the stroke four years later, and, like Fetterman, did not provide access to his doctors or medical records. Still, Duckworth said during a debate that she thought Kirk was capable of doing the job but “the problem is he’s not doing it.”
Late in the race, Kirk’s campaign released a one-page letter from a treating physician that said the senator had made a “full cognitive recovery” while still speaking haltingly, dealing with limited use of his left leg and the inability to use his left arm, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Kirk ended up losing his reelection bid.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press