Pope Francis has had three hospitalizations since he was elected pope in 2013, and underwent major surgery as a young man to have part of one lung removed.
In between, the 86-year-old pontiff has suffered from bouts of sciatica, or nerve pain, that have made walking and standing difficult. More recently, he strained his knee ligaments and had a small fracture in one knee that forced him to use a wheelchair and walker for more than a year.
Francis has a personal physician, Dr. Roberto Bernabei, who is an internist and geriatric specialist at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. He also has a personal nurse, Massimiliano Strappetti, an employee of the Vatican health system whom Francis credited with saving his life when Strappetti diagnosed the 2021 intestinal problem.
In 2022, Francis named Strappetti his “personal health care assistant.” Strappetti and Bernabei usually joins Francis on his foreign trips.
The pope underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a hernia in his abdominal wall. Here’s a look at the health of the pontiff.
1957: In his native Argentina, Francis, then in his early 20s, suffers from a severe respiratory infection that forces doctors to remove part of one lung. He later recalls that a nurse saved his life at the time, deciding to double the amount of drugs he had been given.
July 4-14, 2021: Francis spends 10 days in Gemelli hospital in Rome for what the Vatican says is a narrowing of the large intestine. Doctors remove 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon. Francis emerges, saying he can eat whatever he wants, but lamenting he didn’t respond well to general anesthesia.
Jan. 24, 2023: Francis tells The Associated Press that the diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, that had prompted the 2021 surgery has returned but is under control.
March 29-April 1, 2023: Francis spends three days at Gemelli with a respiratory infection after feeling a sharp pain in his chest and having trouble breathing. Doctors diagnose an acute bronchitis and treat him with intravenous antibiotics.
June 6, 2023: Francis undergoes unspecified medical checks at Gemelli and returns to the Vatican.
June 7, 2023: The Vatican says Francis undergoes abdominal surgery for three hours under general anesthesia and that there were no complications. He’s expected to remain at Gemelli for several days.
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