Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis is awake after reacting well to both surgery and general anesthetic, an Italian surgeon said Wednesday afternoon.
Pope Francis “is well, awake, alert, and already made his first joke 10 minutes ago,” Dr. Sergio Alfieri said June 7 during a brief press conference at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where Pope Francis is recovering following abdominal surgery.
Alfieri, director of the hospital’s abdominal surgery department, is the same surgeon who removed part of Pope Francis’ colon during an operation to treat diverticulitis in July 2021.
The surgeon told journalists that from a medical point of view, there would be nothing preventing the pope from continuing with his planned travels to Portugal and Mongolia in August after his recovery.
The conditions treated by the surgery on June 7 and the prior operation of July 2021 were both benign and have been resolved, the surgeon said in response to questions.
“The pope does not have other illnesses,” he underlined.
Alfieri noted that Francis had been experiencing pain for several months due to an incisional hernia and decided June 6 to undergo the surgery to correct it.
An incisional hernia is a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. The surgeon said the hernia may have come about following past operations Francis underwent in Argentina, including for peritonitis, a redness or swelling of the lining of the abdomen often caused by appendicitis.
Alfieri said Francis was already cracking jokes and had asked him when the next surgery would be.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said “Pope Francis is alert and conscious and thankful for the many messages of closeness and prayer that have immediately reached him.”
Alfieri was assisted by Drs. Valerio Papa, Roberta Menghi, Antonio Tortorelli, and Giuseppe Quero. The anesthetist was Dr. Massimo Antonelli, who was assisted by Drs. Teresa Sacco, Paola Aceto, Maurizio Soave, and Giuseppina Annetta.
The head physician of the Vatican’s health and hygiene office, Dr. Luigi Carbone, was also present in the operating room.
Pope Francis left for the hospital immediately after greeting pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience June 7.
At the start of the audience, he had prayed before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The pope was taken to Gemelli Hospital in a white Fiat 500 with tinted windows with a police escort.
The operation took place in the early afternoon and lasted three hours, the Vatican said.