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Pope’s Health Condition Looks Optimistic

A regional health commissioner who met Monday with the Pope’s medical team says John Paul II, the 84-year-old pontiff, is recovering well after undergoing a tracheotomy last week.
( [email protected] ) Feb 28, 2005 06:51 PM EST

A regional health commissioner who met Monday with the Pope’s medical team says John Paul II, the 84-year-old pontiff, is recovering well after undergoing a tracheotomy last week.

The pontiff returned to hospital for emergency treatment last Thursday, two weeks after he spent 10 days in the hospital for an acute respiratory problem caused by flu. After a series of tests, doctors on Thursday decided to perform a tracheotomy to facilitate the Pope's breathing by bypassing the infected area of his windpipe.

Any step toward recovery is complicated by the pope's battle with Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder that causes tremors and limits muscle control. He also suffers from hip and knee ailments.

Nevertheless, the Pope made an unexpected appearance at his hospital window on Sunday, showing the world that he is still alive and in control despite an emergency operation to ease his breathing problems last week, which sent a powerful message amid questions about the Pope's continued ability to lead the 1 billion Roman Catholic church if he is unable to speak.

His appearance show his personal determination, after the Vatican announced that he would skip the weekly blessing a 26 years old tradition, which he didn’t miss even after he was shot in 1981 and recovering from operation in 1992.

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