Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel in 'serious but stable condition' following brain bleed surgery

Officials with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office have released additional details surrounding a medical emergency that landed County Attorney Allister Adel in the hospital.

According to a statement released by Jennifer Liewer, Adel fell at her home and hit her head recently, and was taken to a Valley hospital on the night of Nov. 3, when her condition worsened. At the hospital, an emergency surgery was performed to address bleeding in Adel's brain.

"She is currently hospitalized in serious but stable condition and responding well to medical treatment," read a portion of the statement. "The team [Adel] put into place over the past year continues to move forward with the important work of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office."

Adel was appointed as Maricopa County Attorney in October 2019 to fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Bill Montgomery to the Arizona Supreme Court. Adel's appointment was for the remainder of Montgomery's term, was set to end in January 2021.

Earlier in her career, Adel worked as a prosecutor, administrative law judge and general counsel for the Arizona Department of Child Safety. According to the Maricopa County Attorney's website, Adel is the first female to serve as Maricopa County Attorney.

Adel is running for another term as the county attorney and faced a challenge from Democratic candidate Julie Gunnigle. On Nov. 9, Gunnigle conceded the election via a series of tweets on her unverified Twitter account.

In the tweets, Gunnigle said she has come closer to any Democratic candidate within the past 40 years to winning the office.

Adel's campaign, meanwhile, said they are "humbled and incredibly grateful to the voters of Maricopa County" for electing Adel. As a county-level office, only voters residing in Maricopa County get to vote on the Maricopa County Attorney's Office position.

On Nov. 19, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office released an update on behalf of Adel's family, as well as doctors:

"We are grateful for the outpouring of support during this time and the privacy that has been afforded to our family. We appreciate the community’s continued patience as Allister recovers from surgery and want to thank the physicians and staff at the Barrow Neurological Institute for the world-class care they are providing at this time. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday," her family said in a statement.

"Allister Adel was transferred on Nov. 5 to Barrow Neurological Institute. She has been receiving treatment for a brain bleed that occurred between the brain and inner lining of the skull, causing pressure on the brain. The blood clot was surgically removed and the pressure on her brain has been relieved. She continues to respond well to treatment and is alert and communicating with her family and medical team. The medical team at Barrow will provide Ms. Adel with world-class neurological care to help her make the best possible recovery, as we do with all our patients. Out of respect for the family’s wishes, Barrow will have no further comment at this time," said Dr. Michael Lawton, President and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute.

Brain hemorrhage explained

Hemorrhaging in the brain can occur either within the brain or between the brain and the skull, according to Harvard Medical School. Symptoms can often appear without warning and are life-threatening.

Brain bleed poses a significant danger because it increases pressure inside of the skull.

"For those who survive a brain hemorrhage, recovery is slow. A minority of people are able to recover complete or near-complete functioning within 30 days of the stroke," according to Harvard.

"When you bleed into the brain, it depends on how large the hemorrhage was and from what," said Dr. Emun Abdu, Neurosurgery Medical Director with the Abrazo Health Network.

Dr. Abdu has no personal knowledge of Adel's medical condition, but she says all kinds of conditions can lead to bleeding to the brain.

"You can also hemorrhage into the brain, typically from high blood pressure, as you get older. The other one is you can bleed from the skull base, where the arteries are, and the size of the aneurysm that just pops and needs to be repaired right away if the patient's alive. If you don't take care of it, it can re-hemorrhage and they can die," said Dr. Abdu.