Pope John Paul II Dies

Bloodstream Infection Progressed Into Organ Failure

From the WebMD Archives

April 2, 2005 -- Pope John Paul II has died following a urinary tract infection that progressed into a bloodstream infection. He was 84 years old.

He had developed a urinary tract infection and a high fever on Thursday. Despite antibiotic treatment his infection progressed. He later developed very low blood pressure and kidney failurefrom a serious bloodstream infection called sepsis. The pope went into septic shock late Thursday. Septic shock occurs when blood pressure drops severely. With this condition the body's organs, including the kidneys, liver, lungs, and brain, don't get enough blood supply. This can cause them to not function properly.

The Vatican reports that no life support was used.

Two days earlier, doctors inserted a feeding tube through the pope's nose and into his stomach. That was done because the pope was having trouble swallowing.

News about the pope's deteriorating health first surfaced in February. Breathing problems after a bout of the flu caused him to be hospitalized twice that month in Rome. During his second hospitalization, surgeons cut a small opening (called a tracheotomy) in his neck to help him breathe.

The pope also had Parkinson's disease, which may have contributed to his declining health in recent months. People with Parkinson's can have problems emptying their urinary bladder, which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.

Last Rites -- a Catholic sacrament -- were reportedly performed before the pope passed away.

He was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla near Krakow, Poland, in May 1920 and became pope in October 1978.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 02, 2005


SOURCES: Holy See Press Office, "His Holiness John Paul II - Short Biography." WebMD Medical News: "Is the Pope's Parkinson's to Blame for Illness?" WebMD Medical News:" Pope Has Surgery to Help Him Breathe." WebMD Medical News: "Pope's Frail Health Due to Age, Parkinson's."

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