Pope Francis is expected to be discharged from hospital on Saturday, the Vatican said in a statement, after the 86-year-old pontiff was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital and diagnosed with bronchitis earlier this week.
The pontiff’s health is “gradually improving,” the Vatican said, adding that he was responding well to antibiotics, enjoyed pizza on Thursday night, and has resumed work while undergoing medical treatment.
Italian news agency ANSA said doctors had “for now” ruled out heart problems and pneumonia for Francis, quoting anonymous hospital sources. The Vatican also said that the pope does not have COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that the pope was taken to the hospital for some “previously scheduled checks,” but the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera later reported that Francis had arrived at the hospital in an ambulance, due to heart and breathing problems.
The pope suffers from mobility issues which has forced him to use a wheelchair. In 2021, he underwent surgery to treat a colon problem which returned in January this year.
According to the Associated Press, the pontiff only has one lung after having the other one removed following a lung infection as a teenager.
Dr. William Schaffner at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville told ABC News that people with decreased lung capacity may have a difficult time recovering from lung infections because they don’t have “reserve” healthy lung capacity to help them breathe while the infection heals.
Ahead of Easter celebrations, Pope Francis is expected to appear in numerous events and services, including a Palm Sunday mass this weekend. It is currently unclear whether he will still attend these events.
The pope, who has overseen the Catholic Church for 10 years this month, has previously floated the idea of following in the footsteps of his predecessor, who retired early due to poor health.
A tweet from the pope’s Twitter account on Thursday said: “I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer.”