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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Doctors feed Pope by nasal tube
Pope John Paul II appears at a Vatican window
The Pope made the sign of the cross and struggled to speak
Pope John Paul II is being fed through a nasal tube to aid his recovery from illness, the Vatican has revealed.

The Vatican added that the Pope, who silently blessed crowds from his window on Wednesday, was continuing to convalesce "slowly and progressively".

Officials insisted he was "directly following" the activity of the Holy See and the Church.

The 84-year-old pontiff had a tube inserted in his throat to help him breathe last month.

Feeding by nasogastric tube is the most common short-term method of getting food directly to a patient's stomach
Insertion involves passing a flexible plastic tube through the nostril, down the back of the throat and into the stomach
Procedure can be uncomfortable, but does not involve sedation or surgery
Liquid food is fed into the tube
The Vatican statement said that in order "to improve his calorific intake and promote an efficient recovery of his strength, nutrition via the positioning of a nasal-gastric tube has begun".

The thousands waiting in St Peter's Square for the Wednesday audience clapped and cheered when the Pope made his brief appearance.

He made the sign of the Cross with his hand, while the blessings were read out by an aide. A microphone was placed in front of the Pope, but he struggled to speak and it was removed.

Ill-health forced the Pope to delegate Easter ceremonies to his cardinals for the first time in his long papacy.

Why doctors are not optimistic about the Pope's health

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