Senator Kirk upgraded to fair condition

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R)

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has been upgraded to fair condition as he continues recovering from a stroke he suffered more than a week ago.

Dr. Richard Fessler of Northwestern Memorial Hospital says the Illinois Republican is alert, talking and responding well to questions. The neurosurgeon says doctors are very pleased with Kirk's progress.

Sen. Kirk

suffered a stroke and underwent surgery on January 23 to relieve swelling around his brain.

The 51-year-old Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois. He was later transferred to

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

in Chicago, where tests showed that he had suffered a stroke.

A statement from Kirk's office said the surgery was successful and that doctors are "very confident" in his recovery based on his age and health.

Kirk was elected to the Senate in 2010, winning the seat formerly held by

President Barack Obama