Pope Leaves Hospital 9 Days After Operation

Surgeon says Francis is 'better than before'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 16, 2023 4:29 AM CDT
Pope Leaves Hospital 9 Days After Operation
Pope Francis leaves the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome, Friday, June 16, 2023, nine days after undergoing abdominal surgery.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis was discharged Friday from the Rome hospital where he had abdominal surgery nine days earlier to repair a hernia and remove painful scarring, with his surgeon saying the pontiff is now "better than before" the hospitalization. Francis, 86, left through Gemelli Polyclinic's main exit in a wheelchair, smiling, waving, and saying "thanks" to a crowd of well-wishers, then stood up so he could get into the small Vatican car awaiting him. In the brief distance before he could reach the white Fiat 500, reporters thrust microphones practically at his face, and the pontiff seemed to bat them away, good-naturedly, the AP reports.

"The pope is well. He's better than before,'' Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the surgeon who did the three-hour operation on June 7 told reporters after he said goodbye to Francis as the pontiff got into the car. Following the surgery, Francis will be a "strong pope,'' said Alfier. Instead of going straight back to the Vatican, Francis stopped to pray for 10 minutes before an icon of the Virgin Mary at the famous St. Mary Major Basilica, where he often stops by after trips abroad to give thanks. Francis stayed in his wheelchair as he prayed. He also went there to pray after his discharge on April 2 from the same hospital following treatment for bronchitis.

Hours after the surgery, Alfieri said that the scarring, which had resulted from previous abdominal surgeries, had been increasingly causing the pope pain. There was also risk of an intestinal blockage, if adhesions, or scar tissue, weren’t removed, according to the doctors. Francis is expected to have audiences with the presidents of Cuba and Brazil at the Vatican next week. Other upcoming commitments that have officially been announced include pilgrimages to Portugal in early August for a Catholic youth jamboree and a trip to Mongolia beginning on Aug. 31, a first-ever visit by a pontiff to that Asian country. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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