Former Utah lawmaker hospitalized after nearly dying from a brain issue

Paul Ray underwent emergency surgery to fix a bleeding issue in his brain.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Former Rep. Paul Ray says he underwent emergency surgery to fix a bleeding issue in his brain that nearly killed him.

Former Utah Rep. Paul Ray says he had a severe headache over the weekend. His daughter urged him to go to the emergency room, which ultimately saved his life. It turned out he was bleeding from his brain.

“This proves all of the Democrats wrong because it proves I do have a brain,” Ray joked as he spoke via phone from his hospital bed on Tuesday evening.

Ray, who led the Legislature’s redistricting effort this year, resigned his seat in the Utah House on Dec. 15 for a position with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. Ray also wrote the “pandemic endgame” bill that ended most of Utah’s COVID-related restrictions in April. He was replaced by Karen Peterson, Gov. Spencer Cox’s legislative liaison.

“It started as a headache and got progressively worse. I thought, who goes to the ER for a headache? The doctors said I wouldn’t have made it through the weekend if I hadn’t come in,” Ray said.

Ray underwent emergency surgery to fix the problem.

He explained he’s been on blood thinners for another condition, and bleeding in his brain has always been a possibility.

Ray’s former colleagues in the Utah House were made aware of his condition via an email from House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.

“Our prayers are with former-Rep. Paul Ray and his family at this time. He is a good friend and honorably served our state for two decades. We wish him a full and speedy recovery,” Wilson said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

Ray tells The Tribune his prognosis is good, and his doctors expect a full recovery.

“I just spoke to my doctor, who says the follow-up scans and tests look good,” Ray said.

Ray will remain in the hospital for another week and requires bed rest for several weeks after that. He adds his long-term prognosis is good.

“The brain damage means I’m going to stay a member of the Republican party for a while,” Ray said.