John Paul II Foundation
📷 PAP/EPA/V. POOL

That day…doctors from the Polyclinic gave their own blood

The Pope was losing his strength, but he was still conscious.  He was making quiet each time weaker groans. And, he was praying, I heard how he prayed, saying “Jesus, Mary my Mother.”  When we got to the hospital, he lost consciousness.  It was then, when I realized that his life is actually in mortal danger.  Doctors, who were operating, revealed to me later one that they were operating with almost no faith that the patient will survive.  I do not remember, whether it was the horror which overwhelmed all or the general commotion that caused that the Holy Father was taken to the tenth floor thereon it was necessary to take him to the ninth floor to the operating room.  At one point I heard someone’s voice: “This way, it will be faster.” So, to shorten the distance, paramedics broke down the door.  They let me to go inside; there were a lot of people.  I was standing in the corner and was getting an update on a regular basis.  Then, the issues with blood pressure and the rhythm of the heart occurred.   However, it turned out that the worst moment happened when Dr. Buzzonetti approaching me and asked me to give to the Holy Father the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. I did that right away, though with a broken heart.  It is as if I would have been told that there is nothing that can be done.  Besides, the first transfusion failed.  Another one was needed.  This time, doctors of the Polyclinic gave their own blood.  Luckily, meantime, the surgeon, Professor Francisco Crucitti, who agreed to perform the operation, arrived at the hospital.  The head of the hospital department, Professor Gian Carlo Castiglioni, was in Milan at that time.  And, finally the operation started.  I was already standing outside of the operating room.  And, I was praying, praying, praying.  From time to time, one of the doctors was coming to me and informed me of the progress of the operation.  Then, I was praying twice as fast. I entrusted myself to God, calling the name of the Virgin Mary…  After nearly five-and-a-half hours someone, whose face I don’t even remember today, but I remember his words, came and told me that the operation ended, everything went well and the chance of survival increased.  After transportation to the recovery room, the Holy Father woke up from the anesthesia at dawn of the next day.  He opened his eyes, looked intensively at me, as if he could not recognize me, then he uttered the words: “it hurts… drink…” And soon after that: “How is Bachelet?…”  Apparently, it came to his mind what happened to Professor Vittorio Bachelet, who was killed by the Red Brigades.

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz – “Testimony” 

 TBA Publisher, Warszawa 2007