Vatican: Pope making steady progress, resting well after surgery

The 86-year-old drinks liquids and makes a brief phone call as he recovers from abdominal surgery.

Pope Francis attends the Vespers prayer service to celebrate the conversion of St. Paul at St. Paul's Basilica in Rome, Italy, January 25, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
Pope Francis's post-operative recovery is proceeding as expected with bloodwork and respiratory levels stable, the Vatican says [File: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

Rome, Italy — Pope Francis has drunk liquids, received the Eucharist and made a brief phone call on his first full day recovering from a three-hour operation to remove intestinal scar tissue and repair a hernia in his abdominal wall, the Vatican says.

Francis, 86, rested “extensively” overnight at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, where his condition was stable and his post-operative recovery deemed to be regular, the Vatican said in a statement on Thursday.

He was on a liquid diet but received communion.

Among the well-wishes Francis received was a poster from a Peruvian family whose infant he baptized on March 31 at the same hospital during his last stay while he was recovering from bronchitis.

The poster featured a widely seen photo of the pope caressing the cheek of baby Miguel Angel after the baptism. Francis called his mother briefly to thank her, the Vatican said.

“He is in a generally good condition, is alert and is breathing without assistance,” it said.

Francis was admitted to Gemelli on Wednesday for his second major abdominal operation in two years following a 2021 procedure to remove part of his colon.

Doctors removed internal scarring on the intestine that had caused a partial blockage and also repaired a hernia that had formed over a previous scar. They placed a prosthetic mesh in the abdominal wall.

“The holy father is well. This is the news that you and the whole world were waiting for,” Sergio Alfieri, the doctor who performed the operation, told reporters late on Wednesday.

“He has already made his first joke 10 minutes ago,” he said, adding that there were no complications during the surgery.

The pope is expected to rest for five to seven days, he added.

He is staying on the 10th floor of Gemelli, a suite reserved for popes.

Born in Argentina, Francis started his papacy in 2013 after then-pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by resigning.

Professor Sergio Alfieri speaks with the media at the Gemelli Hospital where Pope Francis undergoes the abdominal surgery, in Rome, Italy, June 7, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Professor Sergio Alfieri speaks to the media at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where Pope Francis underwent abdominal surgery [Remo Casilli/Reuters]

He is the first pope from the Global South, which is home to most of the world’s Christians.

The pope was treated for bronchitis more than two months ago and stayed at the Gemelli for three days.

In 2011, he had major colon surgery. Francis also has knee problems and is regularly seen walking with the help of a cane.

But Alfieri, the doctor who performed the latest surgery, said that, overall, the pope is in good health.

“Let’s be clear once and for all. … The pope doesn’t have other illnesses,” he said, adding that the operation more than 10 years ago and Wednesday’s procedure were caused by “benign pathologies”.

Source: Al Jazeera