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Pope: One Lung Shouldn’t Limit Him, Doctors Say

By Alex Johnston
Epoch Times Staff
Created: March 13, 2013 Last Updated: March 13, 2013
Related articles: World » Europe
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Pope has one lung: When Pope Francis I was elected Wednesday, it was reported he has only one lung. Doctors say having one lung shouldn’t pose a problem for him.

Pope has one lung: Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on March 12, 2013, in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Pope has one lung: Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on March 12, 2013, in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new pope, only has one lung, after he lost his other to infection while he was a teenager, but doctors say it will likely not post much of a problem during his tenure.

Bergoglio, 76, who is now called Pope Francis I, was elected during the papal conclave on Wednesday. He is two years younger than Pope Benedict XVI when the former pontiff was elected.

It was reported by The Associated Press that he only has a single lung.

Dr. Zab Mosenifar, a lung expert at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told NBC: “Without seeing and testing him, I would comfortably say he functions at 85 to 90 percent capacity of someone his age that has both lungs and hasn’t taken such good care of himself. It just just didn’t faze me.”

He said that the new pope, who most likely lost the lung around 50 years ago when fungal infections or pneumonia were treated via surgery instead of antibiotics, appears to be lean and fit for his age.

Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., said that “obviously, this was a success because here he is at age 76,” reported ABC News.

Schaffner speculated that the pope could have had a number of problems that led to losing his lung.

“Many people have gone on to live perfectly normal lives, even to engage in tennis, hiking and jogging with one lung,” Schaffner added, referring to people with the problem. “It’s like being able to live with only one kidney.”

And Dr. Richard Shemin, with Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said the human body can compensate “where the good lung becomes larger and obviously can provide all the oxygenation for circulation,” reported the Huffington Post.

None of the aforementioned doctors treated the new pope.

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