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Longest-serving Florida congressman gravely ill

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Congressman Young, AP image, 2007 Congressman Young, AP image, 2007
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

One week after he announced his retirement, Congressman C.W. Bill Young took a turn for the worse.  Doctors are uncertain about his prognosis.

Rep. Young is at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.  Last week, problems with his back prompted the 82-year-old to not run for a 23rd term.

With more than 40 years in Congress, Young is the longest-serving office holder from either party.  He has a reputation for defending people who are facing unfairness.

“There are congressmen who are known as very self-serving.  But congressman young will be viewed as serving others," said USF Political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus.  “Constituency service will  be the biggest badge of honor that he will carry, because he has looked out for the little person, the military families, people who are ill.  And it's been far less about him than it's been about his constituents” she said.

Congressman Young shocked the Washington establishment when he called for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The change of heart came after he received a letter from Staff Sergeant Matthew Sitton of Largo, who died on the battlefield.

Young also created a bone marrow transplant registry which saves as many as 15 lives a day.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos was Young’s Chief of Staff for many years, and says the registry was very special to Young.

“I think of all things that he has done, I think that is one program that still gives him the most pride,” said Cretekos.

Across the Bay area, you can see Young's name on buildings, honoring his decades of public service.

“There are some Congress members that like to have their names on buildings," said Dr. MacManus.  "There are others who deserve their names on building, and that would be Bill Young."

Related story: Congressman Bill Young to retire

Stay with wfla.com on this developing story.

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