UT President hospitalized for blood clot

Lena Price

UT President William Powers Jr. is in stable condition after being hospitalized for a pulmonary embolism Tuesday.

A doctor discovered the embolism during a medical examination Tuesday morning, according to a memo released to university leaders Tuesday. The president is at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center and will remain there for observation and rest “for a few days,” according to the statement.

University officials declined to comment outside of the statement.

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that originates somewhere in the body — usually the leg — and blocks the passage of blood to the lungs, said Angela Clark, an associate professor in the School of Nursing who specializes in cardiac disease.

“For the most part, they are pretty serious,” Clark said. “They can be catastrophic if they aren’t identified quickly enough.”

Extended periods of immobilization, such as sitting through long flights, can lead to blood clots that result in pulmonary embolisms. Leg injuries can also cause them.

“He strikes me as someone who is in pretty good shape, so it’s possible that he could have injured his leg while exercising,” Clark said.

She said the clots are difficult to identify, and often people will not show any symptoms. If the clot forms in the leg, they might notice slight swelling in the calf or pain behind the knee. If the clot occurs in the chest, people could experience symptoms similar to a heart attack.

Because Austin is a large city, Clark said Powers should have access to high quality medication and testing. Pulmonary embolisms are typically treated with blood thinners, she said.

According to the University statement, Powers is currently receiving blood thinners.
Powers was scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday at a hearing regarding state funding allocations for the UT System. He was also set to appear in a joint interview with Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin at The Texas Tribune to discuss higher education funding.

The hearing has been tentatively rescheduled for later this month, and the Tribune will reschedule its interview at a later date.

Powers, who is 64 years old, took office on Feb. 1, 2006, after serving as dean of the UT School of Law. He taught at the University of Washington Law School before coming to UT in 1977.