Democrat James J. Devine, a leading force behind progressive rebels that have repeatedly challenged Union County’s political establishment in recent years, was rushed to Robert Wood University Hospital Rahway by ambulance on Monday, Dec. 15 at about 5 p.m.
He remains hospitalized under sedation for pain and the political strategist may remain in the medical center for several more weeks.
Sources say Devine was diagnosed with acute necrotizing pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas with some death among organ tissue – a painful disease for which there is no treatment.
Every year in the United States, up to 210,000 patients per year are admitted to a hospital for acute pancreatitis, with mortality rates for severe cases up to 30 percent depending on the presence of infection.
According to the Merck Manual, “When acute pancreatitis is mild, the death rate is about 5% or less. However, in pancreatitis with severe damage and bleeding, or when the inflammation is not confined to the pancreas, the death rate can be as high as 10 to 50%.”
There is no immediate cure and treatment is restricted to fasting, intravenous fluid and nutritional support, and high doses of antibiodics.
Mild acute pancreatitis has a low mortality rate, but patients with severe acute pancreatitis are more likely to develop complications and have a much higher death rate.
In severe acute pancreatitis, parts of the pancreas die (necrotizing pancreatitis), and blood and other fluids may escape into the abdominal cavity, which can be life threatening.
It can have severe complications and high mortality despite treatment. While mild cases are often successfully treated with conservative measures, such as fasting and aggressive intravenous fluid rehydration, severe cases may require admission to the intensive care unit or even surgery to deal with complications of the disease process.
A computed tomography (CT) scan detected inflammation of the pancreas and several other complications, including necrosis of about one-third of Devine’s pancreas.
It may be necessary to remove necrotic tissue surgically, a procedure known as debridement, because untreated cells that die result in a build-up of decomposing dead tissue and cell debris, or internal gangrene, a potentially life-threatening condition that arises when a considerable mass of body tissue dies.
The pancreas is a glandular organ in the digestive and endocrine systems, it is located in the abdominal cavity behind the stomach.
Endocrine glands produce several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide that release directly into the blood.
The pancreas is also a digestive organ, secreting enzymes that assist digestion and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.
Devine is known as a muckraking journalist whose acid wit has burned a number powerful political figures who seldom get called to task by more timid reporters and critics but he had also been a key campign strategist, candidate and activist.
Devine has condemned local Democrats for doing business as usual with notorious Wall Street titans as Goldman, Sachs & Co., Wells Fargo and Bank of America, who he says contributed to the national economic collapse and foreclosure crisis.
Devine is a progressive Democrat who opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2002, supports universal health insurance and advocates the expansion of free public education. Also a dedicated advocate of political reform, Devine has accused some politicians within his own party of robbing taxpayers and supporting corrupt practices.
He worked as a community organizer and fundraiser for the New Jersey Environmental Federation in 1988-89, then managed operations in northern New Jersey during the 1990 US Census. In 1991, Devine waged a spirited challenge to then-Elizabeth Mayor Thomas G. Dunn for the Democratic Assembly nomination.
Devine was press secretary for Richard Kimball, the 1986 Democratic US Senate nominee in Arizona who went on toe establish the nonprofit organization Project Vote Smart, and from 1992 through 1993 he served as political director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, where he was credited with helping Bill Clinton become the first of his party’s presidential nominees to win the state’s electoral votes since 1964.
In 1994, Devine established Devine Advertising Associates and three years later, he purchased New Jersey’s oldest weekly newspaper and created Devine Media Enterprises, Inc.
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