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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK

World: Europe

Pope's litany of health problems

The Pope had abdominal pains during a visit to France in 1996

Pope John Paul II has suffered increasing health problems since a near-fatal assassination attempt in May 1981.

Right-wing Turkish fanatic Mehmet Ali Agca shot the pontiff several times as he toured St Peter's Square in the Popemobile.

[ image: He has since visited his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca]
He has since visited his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca
One bullet went through the Pope's abdomen and another just missed his heart. He survived after major intestinal surgery.

He went through further surgery in August of that year after infection took hold.

In 1992 he had major surgery to remove a colon tumour that was becoming malignant.

[ image: The Pope has needed a stick since major leg surgery]
The Pope has needed a stick since major leg surgery
In 1993, the Pope dislocated his shoulder in a fall at the Vatican, and again spent some time in hospital.

He broke his thigh bone in another fall in his bath in April 1994, having bone replacement surgery as a result. He still limps and uses a cane.

In 1995, a fever forced him to cancel Christmas Mass, while in 1996 he had his appendix removed after repeated "abdominal pains".

[ image: The Pope after his latest accident]
The Pope after his latest accident
The Pope was last known to have had influenza two years ago when he had to cancel a number of activities at the Vatican.

He has suffered from Parkinson's Disease for some time, with slurred speech and a trembling left hand the outward symptoms.

Increasingly fragile, he fell again on Saturday in the bathroom of the papal nuncio's lodgings in Warsaw, needing three stitches in his head.

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