Jill Biden screamed at priest during Biden near-death experience, says new book

·3 min read

Jill Biden once screamed at a priest for reading the last rites to Joe Biden while he was admitted in hospital after being diagnosed with an aneurysm, according to a new biography about the first lady.

President Biden, who was then a 45-year-old senator from Delaware, had been overlooking the warning signs for months and would at times take up to 10 Tylenol a day for his headaches, write the authors Jill Pace and Darlene Superville in their new book, Jill: A Biography of the First Lady.

Mr Biden would feel “sharp pain in his neck” while lifting weights at the Senate gym. One night, the pain got worse, with his right side going numb and legs feeling heavy.

Not wanting to cause concern from his wife regarding his health, he told her that he seemed to have pulled a muscle till he collapsed in a hotel room on 12 February.

The next day, Mr Biden felt nauseated and was having trouble carrying his briefcase. Eventually, his wife was notified and the future president was hospitalised in Wilmington for tests.

US President Joe Biden gives a dandelion flower to First Lady Jill Biden as they arrive to depart on Marine One from the Ellipse in Washington, DC, on 29 April 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden gives a dandelion flower to First Lady Jill Biden as they arrive to depart on Marine One from the Ellipse in Washington, DC, on 29 April 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

The tests revealed that he had an aneurysm and would need surgery immediately.

“His color was just — he was gray," Ms Biden recalled, according to excerpts of the book published in People magazine.

Ms Biden, who had stepped aside to update his children about the senator’s health status, was not allowed inside the hospital room. A hospital nurse informed her that a priest was doing the last rites as she asked her to not enter the room.

"What? He’s not gonna die," she responded, before rushing into the room and forcing the priest out. "Get out! Get out! … My husband is not going to die.

"I yell so rarely that the sound of my voice surprised me almost as much as it did the priest," Ms Biden wrote in her previous memoir.

Subsequently, Mr Biden was moved to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, where he is entitled to care as a member of Congress. However, there conflict also ensued with Ms Biden again put on the spot to take a call for her husband.

According to the book excerpts, Mr Biden’s brother Jimmy wanted another doctor to perform the surgery and to hold it off until that surgeon arrived.

“Jill sat almost in a trance” as she watched the Biden family discuss the risk assessment, write the authors.

"Wait a minute, this is my husband," she finally said. "I make the decisions." She got support from Mr Biden’s mother, Jean. “She’s right,” added his mother after a quiet moment. “This is her decision, not yours."

"In that moment, I truly felt I was a Biden. And I belonged at that table, making decisions that would affect us all," read the excerpts from the book, quoting Ms Biden.

The book, authored by two Associated Press journalists detailing the life of the first lady, will be published on 19 April 2022.