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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Pope Francis will leave hospital on Friday, Vatican says

By Elisabetta Povoledo

Pope Francis will be discharged from the hospital Friday, according to the Vatican, nine days after the 86-year-old pontiff underwent abdominal surgery for a hernia, an unexpected operation that raised concerns about his health.

The Vatican described his recovery from the surgery as “regular,” and photographs it released showed the pope appearing in good health at the hospital, Policlinico A. Gemelli, in Rome.

On Thursday, Francis met with the hospital’s medical team and administrators “in a sign of gratitude,” the Vatican said in a statement. Using a wheelchair, he also visited young patients in the pediatric cancer and child neurosurgery ward to thank them for the “numerous letters, drawings and messages” they had sent the pontiff during his stay.

“Pope Francis experienced first hand the pain they and their mothers and fathers feel every day,” the Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

Francis was admitted to the hospital June 7 after holding his weekly general audience. Later that day, surgeons operated on an incisional hernia, which typically occurs as a consequence of previous operations, that had become increasingly painful.

It was the second time that Francis had faced a significant health issue during his decadelong papacy. In 2021, he had roughly 13 inches of his large intestine removed because of what the Vatican said was inflammation that caused a narrowing of his colon. This year, in March, he was treated for bronchitis that required hospitalization at the Gemelli.

He also has a problem with his right knee and experiences recurrent episodes of sciatica, a nerve condition that causes pain in the back, hips and legs.

Recovery for the operation he underwent last week typically takes just under a week, but doctors advised Francis to stay in the hospital a few days longer because of his age and his workload.

Francis began working from his hospital room a few days after the operation. On Thursday, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram on the pope’s behalf to its ambassador in Greece to express Francis’ “deep dismay” over the migrants who drowned off the country’s coast this week and to offer the survivors “God’s gifts of strength, perseverance and hope.”

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