Pope John Paul is in the operating room of a Rom hospital and is expected to undergo a tracheotomy to help ease breathing problems.
Italian news agencies say doctors are considering performing
that operation in the next few hours. The pope is currently
undergoing medical tests.
Doctors would cut a hole in the pope's throat and insert a tube
to assist breathing.
The pontiff was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance Thursday for
the second time in a month. The Vatican says he's suffering from a
fever and congestion -- a possible recurrence of the flu.
Meanwhile, Roman Catholic faithful are praying for Pope John Paul once again, now that he has suffered a relapse of the flu.
In the pope's hometown in Poland, worshipers offered prayers at an afternoon Mass in the church where the young Karol Wojtyla was baptized.
In Warsaw, a writer who's known the pope for many years and was
married by him says she's "really afraid."
In this country, the Polish-American cardinal of Detroit asked people to keep John Paul in their prayers.
Meanwhile, medical experts in the United States are voicing concern over the pope's health.
They speculate that Pope John Paul may be battling an infection that arose as a complication of the flu or flu-like illness he battled earlier this month.
They say people don't get a relapse of flu itself but flu can lead to a bacterial infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
A geriatrics specialist at the University of Rochester and a Vanderbilt University influenza expert both speculate that the pope may be suffering from congestive heart failure. That's a treatable condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.
John Paul, who is 84, has slumped posture and Parkinson's disease.
The geriatrics specialist, Doctor William Hall, says a new round of illness after flu in an elderly person is "not a good sign" because each new illness takes its toll. The flu expert, Doctor William Schaffner, says the pope's reported symptoms are "noteworthy and serious."
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