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Pope Francis Is Doing Well After Hernia Surgery, Vatican Says

Pope Francis is in “good general condition, alert and breathing on his own,” the Vatican said Thursday, a day after he underwent abdominal surgery after being unexpectedly admitted to the hospital following medical tests this week.

Francis, who is 86 and has suffered from various medical issues over the past few years, “had a peaceful night, managing to rest extensively,” the Vatican said a statement, adding that the results of routine clinical tests were good.

The pope will “observe the necessary postoperative rest” for the entire day while he recuperates in a 10th-floor suite reserved for popes at the Policlinico A. Gemelli hospital in Rome, the Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said in the statement,

Surgeons operated on what is known as an incisional hernia, typically the consequence of previous operations, that had been causing painful intestinal blockages that were occurring with greater frequency.

The three-hour operation to remove intestinal scar tissue and repair a hernia in his abdominal wall, had “no consequences” the Vatican said after the procedure.

The operation had raised fresh concerns about the pope’s health. He was recently treated for bronchitis that required hospitalization in late March, had part of his colon removed in major surgery in 2021, and he now often uses a cane or a wheelchair because of knee problems and sciatica.

Sergio Alfieri, the director of abdominal and endocrine sciences at Gemelli who carried out the surgeries on Francis this week and two years ago, told reporters Wednesday that the pontiff also underwent abdominal procedures before becoming pope in 2013.

The immediate first phase of recovery should take about a week, according to Prof. Giampiero Campanelli, director of the Hernia Center, a clinic in Milan, and editor in chief of the medical journal Hernia.

During that time, the pope will be closely monitored to ensure that the drainage tubes placed near the surgical incision to remove fluids and prevent them from accumulating in the body were working efficiently, Professor Campanelli said.

The pope will be encouraged to begin walking, to avoid thrombosis, the professor added, noting that doctors would look to ensure that his respiratory system was back on track as incisions to the abdomen can complicate breathing.

“It’s important that the patient get on his feet as soon as possible,” Professor Campanelli said. “If all goes well, within a week the patient will have no consequences.”

The Vatican has canceled all of Francis’ public and private audiences until June 18 as a precautionary measure.

Once out of the hospital, the pope will have to avoid lifting heavy objects, exerting himself, and keep coughing to a minimum, Professor Campanelli said.

Dozens of cameras and reporters congregated outside the Gemelli hospital in Rome, where popes usually receive medical treatment, hoping for a glimpse of Francis at the window of his suite.

Prayers and well wishes for a quick recovery continued to arrive. The diocese of Rome, of which the pope is the bishop, called for prayers from its website. Young patients of the Bambino Gesù hospital, which is owned by the Holy See, drew a get-well card on Wednesday: “Don’t be afraid, we are with you,” it read.

“The pope is informed of the messages of closeness and affection that have come in the last few hours and expresses his gratitude, while asking for continued prayers for him,” Mr. Bruni said in the statement.

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Mohammad SHiblu

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