06/07/2023, 20.01
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Pope Francis at Gemelli hospital for intestinal surgery

Prof. Sergio Alfieri: 'The operation and general anaesthesia went off without complications, the Holy Father reacted well'. This morning he held his customary general audience with the faithful in St. Peter's Square. The operation made necessary by "recurrent, painful and worsening" occlusions. The precedent of 2021 and the trips scheduled for August confirmed this week.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The surgery and general anaesthesia went off without complications. The Holy Father reacted well". This was stated this evening by Prof. Sergio Alfieri, the surgeon at the Policlinico Gemelli in Rome who led the medical team that operated on Pope Francis' intestine today. "We proceeded to free the adhesions," he explained. "The repair of the hernial defect was then carried out by means of a plastic surgery of the abdominal wall with the help of a prosthetic net".

The pontiff will now have to stay for a few days in the flat on the tenth floor of the hospital that John Paul II had already dubbed 'Vatican 3'. The Holy See has cancelled public appointments until Sunday 18 June. "Pope Francis is alert and conscious," specified the director of the Press Office Matteo Bruni, "and thanks for the numerous messages of closeness and prayer that have immediately reached him.

The pontiff - at the end of the general audience held regularly this morning in St. Peter's Square, dedicating his reflection to the figure of St. Therese of Lisieux - went for admission to the hospital, where he had already been examined on an outpatient basis yesterday morning.

"The Holy Father," wrote the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, in a note, "will undergo a laparotomy and plastic surgery of the abdominal wall with prosthesis in the early afternoon under general anaesthesia. The operation, concerted in recent days by the medical team assisting the Holy Father, has become necessary due to an incarcerated laparocele that is causing recurrent, painful and worsening sub-occlusive syndromes".

"His hospital stay " the note goes on to say, "will last several days to allow the normal post-operative course and full functional recovery".

Already in July 2021 Pope Francis had undergone - again at Policlinico Gemelli - an operation for 'a symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon'. In later interviews, the pontiff himself had spoken of difficulties with anaesthesia, which is why surgery had been ruled out in the face of knee pain. Then, last March, he was hospitalised again for a few days in the same hospital for a respiratory crisis.

Just this week, the Vatican has confirmed two important apostolic journeys that await Pope Francis in the coming months: yesterday, the programme for the visit to Portugal from 2 to 6 August on the occasion of World Youth Day in Lisbon, during which a stop at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is also planned, was released. From 31 August to 4 September - as announced last Saturday - the pontiff is expected to travel to Mongolia, while on 23 September he is expected in Marseilles for the third meeting of the Mediterranean bishops.

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