Human Interest

Surgeon: Pope is awake, joking after hernia operation

Rome, Jun 7 (EFE).- Pope Francis is “fine, awake and aware” after surgery on Wednesday to repair an abdominal hernia at Rome’s Gemelli Hosital, according to what the surgeon who performed the operation, Sergio Alfieri, said at a press conference.

“The first thing is that the pontiff is fine, I think that’s the news we were all hoping for. He’s fine, awake, aware and has already made a joke 10 minutes ago,” said the physician at a press conference, an unprecedented event during the pontificate of the 86-year-old pope.

Francis had to undergo the hernia operation to prevent an intestinal blockage. He required general anesthesia and the Prefecture at The Vatican, which manages his schedule, on Wednesday cancelled all his public activities and audiences through June 18.

Specifically, the pontiff underwent a laparotomy to repair an incisional hernia – due to the risk that it could cause an intestinal blockage – on the site of a scar from a previous surgery, Alfieri said.

The pontiff’s abdominal wall was repaired using a surgical mesh.

Francis underwent colon surgery in 2021 after suffering from a hernia that was “causing recurrent, painful and worsening” symptoms, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni had said earlier.

Alfieri said that Francis “perhaps” was operated on for peritonitis and other problems while still living in his native Argentina, and those procedures had left internal scars on his intestine.

But this operation reportedly removed those internal scars and thus the pontiff should be free of further pain from that source.

“The pathology for which he was operated on today is benign. A post-operative procedure will have to be performed but once he is released it will leave no trace and (be of) no concern,” the surgeon said.

This is the third time that Francis has been admitted to the Gemelli Hospital, having spent three nights there in late March for a respiratory infection that was cured with antibiotics, and in July 2021 he had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his intestine removed due to diverticulitis and was released after 10 days, after which he made a slow recovery.

The pope currently “does not have other illnesses,” Alfieri said.

There had been reports that Francis had had difficulty recovering from general anesthesia in the past, but Alfieri sought to set the record straight on that score, saying that “The Holy Father has never had any problem with general anaesthetic, neither two years ago nor now.”

The pope also suffers from a problem with his right knee that has forced him to walk with a cane or be transported in a wheelchair, and he had said on several occasions that he did not want to undergo surgery for that because he believed that he had had past difficulty coming out of anesthesia.

For now, the pope will have to remain in the hospital resting but later “he will be able to have a normal life,” the surgeon said, and Holy See spokesman Bruni called the operation a “success.”



Related Articles

Back to top button