Surgeon Sergio Alfieri confirmed that Pope Francis was awake and happy on Wednesday after a three-hour abdominal hernia operation that raised concerns about his increasingly fragile health, AFP reported.
Pope Francis underwent an operation to treat an abdominal hernia in a hospital in Rome, where he is expected to stay “several days,” according to the Vatican.
“The response of the Holy Father to the surgery and the anesthesia was good. He woke up … and started joking,” Alfieri told reporters.
The Vatican’s media office said in a brief statement posted on the Telegram platform: “The operation was completed, and it took place without complications.”
Meanwhile, all audiences of Pope Francis with the public, until June 18, have been cancelled, the Vatican’s press office told AFP on Wednesday.
Earlier, the director of the media department of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement that the 86-year-old Pope, who underwent colon surgery in 2021, suffers from a hernia that “causes recurrent, painful and exacerbating symptoms.”
This comes the day after the Pope’s short visit to Gemelli Hospital in Rome, on Tuesday, after which the Vatican announced that he had undergone “examinations”.
Pope Francis organized his usual weekly public audience with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Wednesday, before heading to the hospital.
“The hospital stay will last for several days to allow for a normal postoperative course and full functional recovery,” a Vatican spokesman said.
And Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of about 1.3 billion Catholics in the world for a decade, has suffered from increasing health problems over the past year.
In July 2021, he underwent surgery at Gemelli Hospital for a form of diverticulitis, an inflammation of pockets that form in the lining of the intestines, and was discharged after ten days.
He also stayed in the hospital for three nights, at the end of March, with a bronchitis that had been treated with antibiotics.
He also suffers from constant pain in his right knee and sciatica.
The pope’s stay in hospital has always sparked anxiety and speculation about his future.
Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, stepped down in 2013 due to failing health, before dying last December.
For nearly a year, Pope Francis has been using a wheelchair because of recurring knee pain, which he said could not be treated surgically.
Alfieri said that Pope Francis “has never suffered from problems with general anesthesia, neither two years ago nor now,” noting that he “does not suffer from any other diseases.”
When asked about his health in an interview with the American Spanish-language network Telemundo in May, the Pope said he had become “much better.”
“I can walk now. My knee is recovering. I could barely walk, now I can. Some days are more painful than others,” he added.
He explained that the doctors discovered that he had bronchitis in a timely manner.
And he added, “If we had waited a few more hours, it would have been more serious. But I was discharged (from the hospital) after four days.”
Despite his health problems, Pope Francis continues to travel extensively, but admitted, in July 2022, that he needed to reduce his movements.
He said at the time: “At my age and because of these things, I have to spare a little effort to be able to serve the Church … or alternatively, consider the possibility of stepping down.”
But he stressed, in March, that he did not currently intend to step down from the post.
Benedict XVI, who died on December 31, at the age of 95, caused a surprise in 2013 when he announced his step down in a step not taken by any of the popes since the Middle Ages.
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