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Pope Francis alert, recovering well after colon surgery

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Pope Francis is alert, breathing without assistance, and in a good overall condition following surgery to remove part of his colon, the Vatican says.

The 84-year-old Pope is expected to stay in hospital for seven days barring any complications, following his three-hour operation on Sunday night by a 10-person surgical team at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement on Monday.

The Pope underwent a left hemicolectomy, a procedure in which one side of the colon is removed.

It was the first time the Vatican disclosed the specific nature of the surgery.

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The statement did not specify whether the decision to remove part of the colon had been taken before or during the surgery.

The scheduled surgery was for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon, a condition in which sac-like pouches protrude from the muscular layer of the colon, leading it to become narrow.

In addition to causing pain, the condition, which is more common in older people, can lead to bloating, inflammation, and difficulty in bowel movement.

Before Monday’s statement, the Vatican had given scant details about the operation.

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Earlier, an Italian cardinal told reporters he had been informed that Francis was doing OK post-operatively.

“Our prayer and our closeness are very great,” Cardinal Enrico Feroci said at Rome’s airport where he was catching a flight.

The Italian news agency ANSA quoted him as saying that he had heard earlier in the morning from another cardinal, Angelo De Donatis, “and he told me that the Pope is well.”

De Donatis is the vicar of the Rome diocese.

Francis is staying in special, 10th floor suite that the hospital keeps available for use by a pontiff, after Pope John Paul II stayed there several times for various medical problems.

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