Pope spends night in hospital after operation

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Pope Francis, 86, spent a good first night in hospital after a three-hour operation in a Rome hospital to fix a painful hernia, the Vatican said on Thursday.

“The night went well”, the press office said in a short statement, adding that further details would be provided later.

The Argentine pontiff was said to have been awake and joking with his medical team on Wednesday after the abdominal operation at the Gemelli hospital.

The pope, who underwent colon surgery in 2021, had been suffering from an incisional hernia on the site of a scar from previous surgery, doctor Sergio Alfieri told reporters on Wednesday.

He was placed under general anesthesia and the abdominal wall was repaired with a surgical mesh, Alfieri said.

All papal audiences have been cancelled until June 18 to give the pontiff time to recover.

The Vatican said the pope would stay in hospital “several days”, and Alfieri, who operated on him, would not be more specific.

He said this sort of operation usually requires a stay of between five and seven days, but the pope’s age and illness in March — when he was hospitalised with a respiratory infection — may affect his recovery time.

Francis, who has been the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics for a decade, has suffered increasing health issues over the past year and his hospital stays have sparked concern and fuelled speculation over his future as pontiff.

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, who died in December, stepped down in 2013 due to failing health.

AFP