Pope Francis to undergo abdominal surgery amid age-related worries

Despite health issues, Pope maintains a busy schedule and is scheduled to visit Portugal, Mongolia in August

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Pope Francis ponders during the weekly general audience on June 7, 2023, at St. Peters Square in The Vatican. — AFP
Pope Francis ponders during the weekly general audience on June 7, 2023, at St. Peter's Square in The Vatican. — AFP

Pope Francis was admitted to Gemelli Hospital Wednesday where he will undergo abdominal surgery to repair a hernia, according to the Vatican, saying the 86-year-old head of the Catholic Church will remain in Rome for the next several days, citing health concerns.

The Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis would be put under general anaesthesia for the procedure Wednesday afternoon.

In late May, the pope cancelled his commitments as he suffered weakening fever. Back in March, was also admitted to the hospital for bronchitis issue.

While leaving the hospital, Francis joked that he was "still alive."

According to the Vatican, technically called a laparotomy, Wednesday’s procedure involves general anaesthesia and is intended to repair a hernia that is causing "recurrent, painful and worsening" symptoms.

CNN reported citing medical sources that the intervention is likely related to the surgery Francis experienced in 2021 to remove half of his colon.

A general view shows the Gemelli Hospital on June 7, 2023, in Rome. — AFP
A general view shows the Gemelli Hospital on June 7, 2023, in Rome. — AFP   

The Vatican spokesman Bruni also noted that the pope is expected to make a "full functional recovery."

The Vatican statement said the operation was necessary to repair a laparocele, a hernia that sometimes forms over a scar usually resulting from a previous surgery. It can also be caused by obesity or weakness of the abdominal wall muscles.

His condition has been deteriorating since the partial removal of his lung alongside colon surgery 2 years ago. Part of his lung was cut out because of the damage it had suffered following an acute bout of pneumonia years ago.

Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience on June 7, 2023, at St. Peters Square in The Vatican. — AFP
Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience on June 7, 2023, at St. Peter's Square in The Vatican. — AFP

In 2019, he also underwent ocular surgery at Rome’s Clinic of Pius XI to treat a cataract. He has also struggled with chronic sciatica pain.

He was also experiencing knee issues which led him to use a wheelchair or use a cane over the past year.

Francis had spent around 40 minutes at the same Roman hospital Tuesday having a pre-operation procedure.

Upon his condition, he is reported to have said to his aide last year that "you don't run the Church with a knee but with a head."

Despite his health issues, he maintains a busy schedule and is scheduled to visit Portugal and Mongolia in August.