Pope Francis undergoes colon surgery and is doing well
So far, the health of the Pope has not been of great concern.
Over 60 years ago, he had the upper lobe of his lung removed following complications from tuberculosis. And in recent years, his breathing has seemed labored during speeches. But Francis has maintained an often exhausting schedule on his trips abroad, most recently to Iraq in March.
However, he has clearly slowed down, in part because he suffers from sciatica, a condition that causes pain in his legs and back, and he missed some commitments. Last year, he missed New Years Eve and New Years services due to a flare-up. Last year he missed a Lent retreat with senior assistants due to a bad cold.
Although Francis underwent major surgery, the Vatican’s characterization of the procedure as planned – not urgent – was a good sign, according to Dr Anne Peery, gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I think there is a very small chance that it will be life threatening,” Dr Peery said.
Francis suffers from diverticulitis, a condition of the sigmoid colon in which sac-like swellings on the walls of the colon inflame or become repeatedly infected and may warrant surgery, according to Dr Feza Remzi, the director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease at NYU Langone Health.
The Pope arrived at Gemelli Hospital in the afternoon. He was accompanied by a driver and a “close associate,” the Italian news agency Ansa reported.
Francis was admitted to a suite of rooms on the 10th floor in one of the hospital wings, the same rooms Pope John Paul II occupied during his hospital stays. Jean-Paul was there so often as a patient that he often joking called the hospital the “third Vatican”.
Illness and public suffering have become hallmarks of the final years of the 26-year-old pontificate of John Paul, who suffered from complications from Parkinson’s disease. His successor, Benedict XVI, stunned the world when he retired in 2013, saying he did not have the “strength of mind and body” to continue.