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Doctors: Sen. Kirk is talking, in fair condition

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January 30, 2012 02:38 PM EST | AP

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CHICAGO — Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is able to talk and his condition has been upgraded to fair a little more than a week after he suffered a stroke.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Richard Fessler says Kirk is alert and responding well to questions.

In a statement released by the Chicago hospital Monday, Fessler says doctors are very pleased with Kirk's progress.

Kirk is 52 and was in good health when he was stricken. The stroke affected his left side.

Doctors believe a clot developed from a tear in an artery in his neck and lodged in his brain. Doctors removed part of his skull to relieve pressure and allow the brain to swell.