Kerry's wife critical after mystery illness

Heinz ketchup heiress is stable after being rushed to hospital over the July 4 holiday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 3:38am


The wife of US Secretary of State John Kerry, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz-Kerry, is reported to be in critical condition after she was rushed hospital with an unknown illness on Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, Heinz-Kerry "was taken by ambulance to Nantucket Cottage Hospital accompanied by her husband," Kerry's personal spokesman Glen Johnson said, without specifying what she was suffering from.

Kerry is due to host a two-day strategic US-China dialogue in Washington tomorrow and Thursday with senior Chinese leaders, but it was not known whether he would still attend.

Heinz-Kerry, a multilingual philanthropist born to Portuguese parents in colonial-era Mozambique, arrived in a "critical but stable condition," the Boston Globe daily reported, quoting a hospital spokesman.

Johnson said Heinz-Kerry was later transferred to "Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, again accompanied by the secretary", suggesting she needed more in-depth treatment.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Party presidential candidate, had been celebrating the July 4 national holiday weekend with his family at their home on Nantucket Island, an upscale tourist location off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on his first long break since he took over in February as the top US diplomat.

He and his wife, 74, have been married for 18 years. It is a second marriage for both of them. She has three sons and Kerry, 69, has two daughters.

Kerry has kept up a punishing schedule since succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. Heinz-Kerry has rarely been seen at his side during official functions at the State Department, although she was present for his swearing-in ceremony and accompanied him on one of his early trips travelling to Istanbul and London, before dropping off the rest of the journey.

A former UN interpreter, she was married to senator Henry John Heinz, an heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune, who died in a helicopter crash in 1991. She inherited many of his trusts.

A committed environmentalist like Kerry, they had first met at an Earth Day summit in 1990. They then met again two years later in Rio for an Earth Day event, after Heinz's death, and married in 1995.

She became well known to many Americans during her husband's unsuccessful presidential campaign. Her sometimes bracing candour during the campaign at times made Kerry's aides uncomfortable. At one point, she suggested that the first lady, Laura Bush, a former teacher and librarian, had never "had a real job". She later apologised.

In 2009, Heinz-Kerry revealed she had been treated for breast cancer.


Additional reporting by The New York Times