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Pope Francis Doing 'Well' After Surgery, Doctor Says


FILE: Pope Francis speaks with a clergyman as he meets with priests, deacons, consecrated people and seminarians at the Cathedral of Saint Therese during his apostolic journey, in Juba, South Sudan, on February 4, 2023.

VATICAN CITY, ROME — Pope Francis is doing "well," is alert and is in good spirits after undergoing abdominal surgery, the doctor who operated on him said on Wednesday.

Surgeon Sergio Alfieri said the pope was expected to take "5-7 days" to recover, and added that the pontiff had cracked a joke with him after waking up from a general anesthetic.

Once his recovery was complete, the pope was not expected to have any limitations on his travels or other activities, the doctor told reporters, saying Francis had no other illnesses.

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.

The Vatican said Francis' medical team had decided in recent days that surgery, which took place under a general anesthetic, was required because the condition was causing painful, intestinal occlusions.

Francis had spent around 40 minutes at the same Roman hospital on Tuesday having a check-up.

Francis made no mention of the planned operation at his weekly audience at the Vatican on Wednesday morning, where he appeared in good spirits.

The pope, who marked the 10th anniversary of his pontificate in March, often uses a wheelchair or a cane to walk because of persistent knee pain.

In July 2021, he had part of his colon removed in an operation aimed at addressing a painful bowel condition called diverticulitis. He said earlier this year that the condition had returned.

The pope last year said he didn't want to have an operation on his knee because the general anesthesia for his colon surgery had brought disagreeable side-effects.