ROME (AP) – Pope Francis visited young cancer patients in hospital in Rome, where he is recovering from bowel surgery before his release, which the Vatican said would take place “as soon as possible”.
Pope Francis will walk in the pediatric oncology ward of the Agostino Gemelli polyclinic in Rome on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, where he visited young patients. Pope Francis is admitted to the same hospital after undergoing bowel surgery. (Holy See Press Information via AP)
A smiling and standing Pope patted the children on the head as their parents held them, according to photos of the meeting released by the Vatican. The visit to the pediatric cancer ward of the Gemelli Polyclinic, located on the same 10th floor as the Pope’s Suite, took place on Tuesday afternoon.
The Vatican did not give a target date for the Pope’s release from hospital in its daily medical update. It reiterated that 84-year-old Francis continued his planned treatment and rehabilitation.
Francis had half of his colon removed on July 4 due to a severe narrowing of his colon, his first major surgery since he became Pope in 2013.
The Vatican had originally said Francis would be released from the Gemelli polyclinic in Rome by the weekend, but said he would be staying a few more days.
The 84-year-old appeared in public for the first time since surgery on Sunday, looking in good shape as he said his weekly prayer from the hospital balcony on the 10th floor, surrounded by young cancer patients. He took the opportunity to call for free health care for all.
Later, Francis was seen greeting elderly patients in the corridor of the hospital, using a wheelchair.
The Vatican said Francis prayed specifically for people who are bedridden and unable to return home.
Pope Francis is greeted by a nun as he sits in a wheelchair at the Agostino Gemelli polyclinic in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, where he was hospitalized for bowel surgery. (Vatican Media via AP)
“May they live this time as an opportunity, even when in pain, to tenderly open to their sick sibling in the bed next to them, with whom they share the same human frailty,” the Vatican said in a statement on Tuesday. .
The Argentine pope had part of a lung removed when he was a young man, but he was otherwise in relatively good health.
[More on Pope Francis’ recovery: Pope Francis will remain in hospital longer than expected to ‘optimize’ his recovery]