25/02/2005

Pope recovering in hospital following surgery

Pope John Paul II is recovering in hospital in Rome, following surgery to ease his breathing problems.

The 84-year-old pontiff returned to hospital yesterday, following a relapse of the flu and breathing difficulties, which hospitalised him for ten days earlier this month.

A tracheotomy was performed on the Pope last night. The process, which involves making a small hole in the windpipe, allows air to pass directly into the lungs and helps to ease breathing problems.

The Pope was taken to Gemelli hospital on February 1, after developing laryngo-spasm, which causes breathing difficulties, while suffering from the flu. He spent ten days in hospital and was released on February 10.

Concern has been growing over the Pope's health in recent years. He also suffers from Parkinson's disease and arthritis and has looked frail during some public appearances over the past few years.

However, the Vatican said that last night's operation had been successful.

Doctors at the Gemelli hospital also told the media that they were satisfied with the Pope's condition following surgery and described his condition as "stable".

(KMcA/SP)

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