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Breathing problem lands pope in hospital



Published: Wed, February 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Pope John Paul II's illnesses derived from the flu.

ROME (AP) -- Pope John Paul II was rushed to the hospital urgently Tuesday night after he suffered inflammation of the throat and had difficulty breathing while battling the flu, the Vatican said.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told The Associated Press that the decision to hospitalize the 84-year-old pontiff was "mainly a precaution."

He pointed out that the pope was not in intensive care but in the same 10th floor suite of rooms where he has been during several previous stays at Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic, about 21/2 miles from the Vatican.

The pope has the flu and acute laryngeal tracheitis, Navarro-Valls said, acknowledging the pontiff had a "certain difficulty in breathing." The spokesman, who has a medical degree, denied Italian news reports that the pope had a CAT scan at the hospital.

Navarro-Valls said more tests will be done and the Vatican would issue a medical report sometime after 9 a.m. today. The hospital said the first statement would be from the Vatican. Journalists were being kept out of the facility.

The Vatican said in an earlier statement that the pope suffered from "an acute laryngeal tracheitis and larynx spasm crisis."

Tracheitis, an inflammation of the trachea, requires hospitalization and usually a breathing tube to keep the airway clear. The spasms are likely a complication from the respiratory illness he's had.

It's possible his Parkinson's disease has made his condition more serious and his breathing more labored.

A Vatican official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the pontiff, who has had the flu since Sunday, had apparently suffered a "breathing crisis."

A close member of the pope's staff, American Archbishop James Harvey, said the pope had congestion and a slight fever during the day.

Unexpected hospitalization

He said the decision to hospitalize the pope was made by close aides. It apparently took many at the Vatican by surprise and cars with Vatican license plates began pulling up at the hospital only after John Paul arrived.

A State Department official, who asked not to be identified, said the pope would be held overnight for observation but there was no indication he was gravely ill.

It was the same teaching hospital he was taken to when he was shot in the abdomen in 1981 and at which he has undergone several operations.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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