Heinz Kerry was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Sunday night after doctors at Nantucket Cottage Hospital stabilized her, said Glen Johnson, a spokesman for Kerry. The secretary of state was with his 74-year-old wife as an ambulance first transported her to the island hospital, and also during her transfer to the Boston facility.
A spokesman for the Nantucket hospital said Heinz Kerry arrived in critical condition, although doctors were able to stabilize her. But neither the family nor hospital officials had released any more details about her medical emergency or her condition Sunday night.
"The family is grateful for the outpouring of support it has received and aware of the interest in her condition, but they ask for privacy at this time," Johnson said.
Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sunday, emergency officials on Nantucket got a call requesting medical aid at a home on Hulbert Avenue and dispatched an ambulance there, Nantucket Police Lt. Jerry Adams said. Online records show the property is connected to Heinz Kerry's family.
Heinz Kerry is the widow of former U.S. Senator John Heinz, and heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune. Heinz died in April 1991 when a helicopter collided with a plane over a schoolyard in Merion, Pa. The senator was among seven people, including two children, who perished in the accident.
Heinz Kerry and John Kerry married in 1995.
She enthusiastically participated in her husband's campaign for president in 2004 and became known for her strong opinions. At least once she had to issue an apology — to First Lady Laura Bush.
Heinz Kerry, asked by USA Today in 2004 if she would be different from Bush, told the newspaper: "Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good," she said. "But I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up."
Laura Bush had worked in public schools in Texas from 1968 to 1977, the year she married the future president.
Doctors treated Heinz Kerry for breast cancer in late 2009.
She previously has said she found in September 2009 that she had cancer in her left breast after having her annual mammogram.
A month later, she underwent lumpectomies on both breasts at a Washington hospital after doctors also discovered what they thought was a benign growth on her right breast.
That diagnosis was initially confirmed in postoperative pathology, but two other doctors later found it to be malignant.
In November 2009, Heinz Kerry had another pair of lumpectomies performed at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Before Sunday's emergency, John Kerry had been at the Nantucket home since returning from a nearly two-week, around-the-world diplomatic trip to the Mideast and Southeast Asia in the pre-dawn hours of July 3.
Before his wife's medical problem, he had planned to return to Washington on Monday and then co-host with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew high-level strategic and economic talks with senior Chinese officials on Wednesday and Thursday.
Kerry had also spoken of his desire to make his sixth trip to Israel as secretary starting at the end of the week. State Department officials said Kerry's schedule may now change pending developments with his wife's health.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee reported from Washington.