Vatican: Pope’s surgeon calms down after surgery

Status: 08.06.2023 04:27

Surgeon Sergio Alfieri gave Pope Francis the all-clear after the operation and cleared up rumours. The Holy Father is fine.

Sergio Alfieri was relieved when he appeared in the small press room of the Gemelli Clinic in front of the international media in a white doctor’s coat, a light blue mouth and nose mask around his neck. The first sentence of the surgeon who operated on Pope Francis: “First of all: The Holy Father is fine”.

The operation on the intestines lasted three hours, the doctor explained, and everything went smoothly for the Pope. Francis “reacted well, both to the surgical procedure and to the anesthesia. He is awake, has already joked and has already made fun of me”. Because, as soon as he woke up from the anesthesia, Francis asked Alfieri when he wanted to operate on him next.

According to the Vatican, the operation that Pope Francis had to undergo went without complications.

Doctor clears up cancer rumors

The surgeon at the Gemelli Clinic, who performed an operation on the Pope’s intestines two years ago, also used the short press conference to say basic things about the Pope’s state of health – and to clear up rumours. For example, with the speculation about a possible cancer of the Pope: “Let’s clarify once and for all the circumstances of the surgical intervention two years ago. This intervention was the subject of a benign pathology from which the Pope has completely recovered”.

The problems for which Francis was now being operated on are also of a benign nature. The Pope, Alfieri clarified, “has no other diseases”.

Intestinal obstruction threatened – intervention still not an “emergency operation”

In the current operation, the surgeon explained, hardenings in the midgut were removed. They were the cause of the Pope’s increasing pain in recent weeks. A clinical picture that, according to the Vatican, could have led to an intestinal obstruction. According to the attending physician, the problems that have now been resolved may have been the after-effects of an operation that Francis underwent in Argentina many years ago.

The Pope’s surgeon also made it clear that he found the media excitement surrounding the current intervention to be exaggerated. For example, the term “emergency operation” is incorrect, said Alfieri: “In those days, these months, when the Pope was in this pain, it wasn’t a question of an emergency. Otherwise we would have operated on him earlier.”

In the end, the Pope decided when to operate, because, according to Alfieri: “As you know, he decides everything himself.” When the pain got worse, the Pope decided to “do it now and reorganize his appointment calendar”.

Pope Francis had been treated in the clinic for a respiratory disease.

Vatican plans recovery time until at least June 18

When asked how long Francis would have to stay in the hospital, the doctor said that a stay in the clinic of five to seven days is generally planned after this type of operation. In the case of the Pope, however, he does not want to commit himself yet, he reminded that Francis, at 86, is already an older patient.

The Vatican has apparently planned a recovery period of at least a week and a half. Pope spokesman Matteo Bruni said all of the Pope’s audiences until June 18 had been canceled as a precaution.

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