Pope Francis leaves hospital nine days after hernia operation

The pontiff underwent surgery at Rome’s Gemelli hospital last week

Pope Francis leaves Gemelli hospital in Rome, where he underwent abdominal surgery last week. EPA
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Pope Francis has been discharged from Rome’s Gemelli hospital, nine days after undergoing surgery.

He left in a wheelchair at 8.45am, passing well-wishers as he was taken to a car for the trip to the Vatican.

The pontiff, 86, underwent abdominal surgery to repair a hernia and remove internal scar tissue last week, and his recovery has been proceeding well, the Vatican said on Thursday.

"The Pope is well. He is in better shape than before," said chief surgeon Sergio Alfieri, who presided over the operation.

Dr Alfieri said the pontiff was well enough to travel.

"He will be able [to carry out his duties] better than before because he no longer will have the discomfort. He will be a stronger pope," Dr Alfieri said.

"He already has resumed working. We asked him to rest a bit and I am certain that this time he will listen to us a bit more because he has some important commitments, which he told us he would respect.

"The pope told us 'Thank you, pray for me, I am still alive'."

Pope Francis has trips planned to Portugal and Mongolia in August but it has yet to be confirmed whether he will make them.

The pontiff traditionally takes all of July off, with his only public appearances being on Sunday, when he delivers the papal blessings.

Pope Francis discharged from hospital

Pope Francis discharged from hospital

He is scheduled to be in Lisbon, Portugal, for four days around World Youth Day and his timetable is packed with about 20 meetings and several other events.

On Thursday, he visited other patients at the hospital and ate with his staff. The first pictures of the Pope since his admission on June 7 showed him in a wheelchair visiting the hospital cancer ward for children.

His engagements have been cancelled until June 18.

Pope Francis, 86, was previously admitted to hospital in March with a pulmonary infection.

In late May, he cleared his schedule after coming down with a fever, two months after he was treated for bronchitis in hospital.

The Argentinian pope had part of his lung removed when he was a young man. He also suffers from sciatica nerve pain and has been using a wheelchair and walker for more than a year because of strained ligaments in his knee.

The pontiff admitted in July 2022 that he needed to slow down and has also repeatedly said he would consider stepping down if his health failed him.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, he has been spiritual leader to the world’s estimated 1.3 billion Catholics since his predecessor’s abdication in 2013.

He is the first pope from the Americas, the first non-European to attain the post since Gregory III in the 8th century and the first Jesuit to hold the position.

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Updated: June 16, 2023, 12:00 PM