The Vatican says Pope John Paul has had an operation to ease breathing problems.
Church officials say doctors performed a tracheotomy on the pope Thursday night, hours after he was taken to Rome's Gemel li Hospital for the second time this month. The Vatican says the 30-minute operation was a success and the pope will spend the night in his hospital room. An aide to Italy's prime minister said the pope was conscious and waved at doctors after the surgery. A tracheotomy involves cutting a small opening into a patient's neck and windpipe and inserting a tube so air can flow more easily into the lungs. The pope spent 10 days in the hospital earlier this month for breathing problems and the flu. He also suffers from Parkinson's disease, which also causes breathing difficulties. The Vatican had said the 84-year old pope was making a strong recovery after leaving the hospital two weeks ago. Catholics have been praying for the pope at cathedrals in several major world cities and in his home town (Wadowice) in Poland.