Brain surgery for Baltimore cardinal called a success
Jun 20, 2007
Shortly after undergoing brain surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore June 18, Cardinal William H. Keeler was cracking jokes with a family member, which officials from the Archdiocese of Baltimore said was a sign the procedure went well.
BALTIMORE, Md. (CNS, 6/19/2007) – In the surgery – which archdiocesan officials confirmed began around 12:30 p.m. and was completed around 2 p.m. – neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson inserted a tube into Cardinal Keeler's brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid into his abdominal cavity.
Head trauma the cardinal received during an October car accident in Italy is believed to be the cause of the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain ventricles, otherwise known as hydrocephalus, archdiocesan spokesman Sean Caine said.
Cardinal Keeler suffered a broken ankle during the accident, but continued to walk poorly long after the bone healed, which can be a symptom of hydrocephalus, Caine said.
"He was moving slowly, kind of shuffling," said Auxiliary Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Baltimore at a post-surgery press conference June 18. "Some days he was doing fine and other days he could hardly move. He was never in any discomfort. His mind was fine."
Deacon Rod Mortel, director of the Office of the Propagation of the Faith for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, visited the cardinal in his hospital room June 19.
"I was surprised to see him in such good shape just 24 hours after having surgery. He is doing very well," said Deacon Mortel, a retired physician. "He was alert and in good spirits. He even got up and walked around, with a little help, of course."
Cardinal Keeler,76, was to remain in the hospital for at least three days, at which time doctors would determine if he can return to his downtown Baltimore residence, or enter a rehabilitation program in a medical facility, Bishop Malooly said.
The cardinal did inform the Vatican he was undergoing surgery and the archdiocese will be run by Bishop Malooly, assisted by the other two auxiliary bishops of Baltimore -- Bishops Mitchell T. Rozanski and Denis J. Madden -- until he can return to work.
"I'm sure he'll be telling me what to do tomorrow," Bishop Malooly said with a laugh. "He does bounce back quickly. That has been his track record."
Earlier in the day, as the cardinal underwent surgery, well-wishers and fellow Catholics prayed for the archbishop of Baltimore during a 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
Traditionally, 15 to 20 people attend the 12:10 p.m. weekday Mass, but more than 60 attended the June 18 service, along with members of the media.
Several employees of the Catholic Center in Baltimore used their lunch hour to attend the Mass to pray for the cardinal's speedy recovery.
"We really wanted to come and show our support and to give him that extra prayer," Tracy Dernoga told The Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan newspaper. She attended the Mass with her co-workers in fiscal services, Tricia Wienecke and Tyra Johnson.
"I was happy that we were able to gather and pray," said Lauri Przybysz, coordinator for family and marriage enrichment. "It's important for the community."
Cardinal Keeler was scheduled to have a checkup in three weeks, to make sure the tube is draining the proper amount of fluids off his brain.