Doctors successfully removed Pope John Paul II’s inflamed appendix Tuesday and ruled out any recurrence of tumors, but they sidestepped questions about the pontiff’s trembling left hand and the possibility that he may suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Francesco Crucitti, the pope’s chief surgeon, said that John Paul faces several more days in the hospital and then a period of convalescence but that the 76-year-old prelate withstood the operation well. He said the pope should be able to get out of bed today.
The surgery appeared to put to rest, for the time being, concerns that John Paul might be suffering from cancer. A benign tumor the size of an orange was removed from the pope in 1992 and speculation centered on the possibility that he had developed a new tumor.
“We have categorically ruled that out,” Crucitti said at a news conference at the Gemelli Hospital three hours after he emerged from the operating room. He described the surgery as a “textbook” operation.
Nonetheless, Crucitti refused to respond to questions about the pronounced tremor in the pope’s left hand, particularly noticeable during a beatification ceremony Sunday, which has led to reports he may suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
“That is not within my competence,” the surgeon said, adding only that specialists had found the trembling presented no undue risks for the pontiff in undergoing surgery.
Vatican officials have been less than candid about this particular health problem, and they were reported to have reprimanded the papal spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, when he suggested last month that the pope might have Parkinson’s disease or some other neurological disorder. Navarro-Valls is a medical doctor.