Photo courtesy of
Utah State Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe.

SALT LAKE CITY — Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, is "doing remarkably well" after receiving a new heart and kidney, members of the Utah Senate were told Wednesday.

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The transplants took place Thursday and Okerlund is "up and walking around" and misses the Legislature, Senate Budget Chairman Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said during a Senate confirmation session.

"It's really an answer to prayer and we do miss him," Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said.

Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, has been serving temporarily as majority leader since mid-February so that Okerlund could focus on the process of being evaluated by doctors for potential heart and kidney transplants.

"He's doing remarkably well," Stevenson said. "We realize there's still a lot of risk involved in this."