State Sen. James Clayborne of Belleville has been absent from Springfield while he recovers from a kidney transplant.
Clayborne, a 49-year-old Democrat who serves as the Senate majority leader, represents the 57th Senate District, which includes Belleville, East St. Louis and Fairview Heights.
Details about the senator's surgery were unavailable Friday.
Clayborne's office declined comment, and Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said questions about Clayborne's health would have to be addressed to his office.
"We're aware of the fact that he hasn't been here for a number of Senate sessions," Phelon said.
Sen. Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat, said Clayborne has remained in contact with Senate leadership and is engaged in the duties of legislating. Haine said the last time he saw Clayborne in person was January during the legislature's lame-duck session.
"I'm sure that Sen. Clayborne is in recovery. This is a significant medical issue, and I'm sure his doctors are advising him to avoid infection," Haine said. "We wish him the best during this period of recovery."
In 2002, Clayborne underwent surgery at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to have a cancerous cyst removed from a kidney. He returned to work within a few weeks of the surgery.
"Everything is fine," Clayborne, who was 38 at the time, said after his recovery from the surgery. "I feel a lot better."
Clayborne said at the time that doctors removed cancerous cells from his body, and he didn't need to have chemotherapy.
In 2006, Clayborne was the chief Senate sponsor of a law that allows hospitals to begin organ and tissue preservation for later donation when the wishes of the patient or the family are unknown. The law permits hospitals to use preservation techniques in order to maintain the viability of organs and tissues until the patient's family can consent to or deny organ and tissue donation.
The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois praised the legislation, saying there were roughly 3,000 Illinoisans waiting for kidney transplants, "some as long as six to eight years."
Clayborne said at the time: "This legislation is designed to affect those who die unexpectedly, yet whose families may wish to give the gift of life through organ donation. It is vitally important to give physicians some additional time to contact loved ones to determine the wishes of the decedent. In this way, we stand to save thousands of Illinoisans' lives by providing additional access to organs that would otherwise not be available."
In 2004, the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's quarterly newsletter reported on how Clayborne, during the school's summit on rural access to health care, shared his battle with cancer.
"I realized how important access to health care is," Clayborne said at the summit.
In recent years, Clayborne has teamed with the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and local hospitals to increase awareness of chronic kidney disease. Clayborne promoted free screenings that were being offered in the region for kidney-related illnesses.
In 1995, Clayborne, an attorney, was chosen to the Senate seat of the late Sen. Kenneth Hall, D-East St. Louis. The next year, Clayborne won an election to the Senate. He's remained in the Senate since then, most recently winning re-election in November.
Clayborne's district covers the Belleville, East St. Louis and Fairview Heights areas, but also stretches to Granite City, O'Fallon and Mascoutah.
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2511.