PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More than half a century ago, Pope Francis lost part of his right lung. It was removed because of pneumonia.
“The lack of antibiotics at that time, that’s probably one of the treatments they had to do,” explains Dr. Anil Singh, a lung specialist at Allegheny General Hospital.
Now, we have antibiotics to treat pneumonia.
“Tuberculosis was a big one, necrotizing pneumonias, fungal infections, you can imagine, those would be the big ones,” he lists.
These days, removing a lung would only be done for cancer, emphysema, inherited lung disease, or a handful of other pulmonary conditions.
People can live normal lives with less than two full lungs — even just one lung. And they would still function almost to the level of having two.
“The other lung will actually compensate, will actually get bigger and fill into that space,” Dr. Singh continues.
Some people, though, may get into trouble.
“If they’re morbidly obese, if they’ve got pulmonary fibrosis,” he says.
At age 76, doctors will watch Pope Francis closely. Just because of his age, he is at risk for heart disease, pneumonia, and other infections which could affect his lungs.