Precinct 333

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Pope Likely To Receive Feeding Tube

It appears the Pope John Paul II is likely to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted into his stomach due to difficulties swallowing.

Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted, an Italian news agency reported today. It stressed that no decision had been made.

The APcom news agency, citing an unidentified source, said the 84-year-old pope might have to have the tube inserted to improve his nutrition since he is having difficulty swallowing with the breathing tube that was inserted Feb. 24.

APcom said the idea of inserting a feeding tube was a hypothesis that was being considered. The procedure involves inserting a tube into the stomach to allow for artificial feeding.

Earlier today, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that the pope's doctors were considering a new hospitalization next week both to perform tests on the breathing tube and to adjust his diet because of problems swallowing.

There was no comment from the Vatican. Nicola Cerbino, a spokesman at Polyclinic Gemelli hospital where John Paul was rushed twice last month, called it media speculation.

Another newspaper, La Repubblica, quoted the pope's Vatican physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, as saying doctors are "reasonably calm" about the frail pope's condition.

This does not sound unlikely to me, given the problems the Pope has had with speaking and swallowing. Inserting the tube is very much in keeping with Catholic teaching on medical ethics, which does not hold feeding tubess to be extraordinary treatment, but rather views the provision of nutrition and hydration as ordinary care which is mandatory unless it causes medical harm to the patient.


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