Publicist: Randy Travis suffers stroke in hospital

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 02: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Country singer Randy Travis performs at the funeral service for George Jones at The Grand Ole Opry on May 2, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. Jones passed away on April 26, 2013 at the age of 81. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for GJ Memorial) Rick Diamond

Updated 10:07 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Country music star Randy Travis suffered a stroke while at a Texas hospital and was in surgery late Wednesday, the singer's publicist said.

Publicist Kirt Webster said Wednesday night that the 54-year-old Travis suffered the stroke while he was being treated for congestive heart failure because of a viral illness.

Webster said Travis was undergoing surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. He remains in critical condition.

"His family and friends here with him at the hospital request your prayers and support," Webster said in a news release.

Earlier Wednesday, doctors said that Travis was showing signs of improvement but remained in critical condition with congestive heart failure because of a viral illness.

The information came in a video statement from Drs. William Gray and Michael Mack of the Baylor Health Care System on Wednesday.

"His condition has stabilized, and he has shown signs of improvement," Mack said in the video. "On behalf of his Mr. Travis' family, friends and associates, we would like to express our extreme gratitude for the overwhelming affection and support that Mr. Travis has received."

The 54-year-old singer was in good health until three weeks before he was hospitalized, when he contracted a viral upper respiratory infection, Gray said.

That led to a case of viral cardiomyopathy, a heart condition caused by the virus that infected his heart muscle, causing it to become weakened and enlarged so that it could not pump properly.

Travis was admitted to Baylor Medical Center McKinney near his home in Tioga through the emergency room on Sunday. The singer underwent a procedure to have a pump installed by catheter that helps increase blood flow before being transferred to The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

The doctors said they "will be giving further updates as his condition changes."

The illness comes as Travis has been trying to put his life back together after a series of embarrassing public incidents involving alcohol. Travis pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in January following an arrest last year and received two years probation and a $2,000 fine. He was required to spend at least 30 days at an alcohol treatment facility and complete 100 hours of community service.

Travis was recently on the road touring, with shows scheduled through October. In April, he performed at a memorial honoring late country singer, George Jones.

The North Carolina-born Travis is a traditional country purist who is a pivotal figure in the genre best known for his hits "Forever and Ever, Amen" and "Three Wooden Crosses." His Warner Bros. debut album "Storms of Life" sold 3 million copies and helped return country music to its roots.

His peers and fans have been watching Travis' progress closely.

"I always feel like he's part of our family, he's in our family," Keith Urban said Wednesday morning. "And I was one of those guys in Australia that bought 'Storms of Life' and became a Randy fan very quickly in late '80s, and I really feel for him right now."

  • CBS News Staff

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