Melania Trump undergoes successful procedure to treat benign kidney condition; First Lady to stay in hospital for a week

Washington: First Lady Melania Trump underwent a "successful" procedure on Monday to treat a benign kidney condition, and is expected to remain hospitalised for the rest of the week, her staff said.

President Donald Trump took a helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit her and tweeted that his wife was in "good spirits".

Melania, 48, had the embolisation procedure on Monday morning. The president spoke with her before the procedure and with her doctor afterward, the First Lady's Office said.

File image of Melania Trump. Reuters

File image of Melania Trump. Reuters

The president tweeted shortly before arriving at Walter Reed outside Washington, saying it was a "successful procedure", describing his wife as being "in good spirits" and offering his thanks "to all of the well-wishers!" He spent over an hour at the hospital before departing, without addressing waiting reporters, via motorcade under stormy skies.

The White House did not offer any additional details on Melania's condition, though Vice-President Mike Pence described the procedure as "long planned" as he opened a speech at an evening event celebrating Israel's independence. "Melania is already on the mend," Pence said.

In the Senate, minority leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, sent his wishes for a "speedy recovery" to the First Lady.

She was last seen in public on Wednesday at a White House event, where she and the president honored military mothers and spouses for Mother's Day.

Two urologists who have no personal knowledge of Melania's condition said the most likely explanation for the procedure is a kind of non-cancerous kidney tumor called an angiomyolipoma. They're not common but tend to occur in middle-aged women and can cause problematic bleeding if they become large enough, said Dr Keith Kowalczyk of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

The "treatment of choice" is to cut off the blood supply, so the growth shrinks, added Dr Lambros Stamatakis of MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Doctors do that with an embolisation, meaning a catheter is snaked into the blood vessels of the kidney to find the right one and block it. Most of the time, these benign tumors are found when people undergo medical scans for another reason, but sometimes when people face pain or other symptoms, Kowalczyk said. Many times, embolisation patients go home the same day or the next.

The president had no official public appearances on Monday and declined to answer shouted questions from reporters about his wife as he departed the White House for Walter Reed.

Melania, a former model from Slovenia, is Donald's third wife and the couple has been married for 13 years. They have a 12-year-old son named Barron. Melania, who has been gradually raising her profile as First Lady, recently hosted her first State dinner and launched a public awareness campaign to help children.

With the president watching, Melania last week unveiled the 'Be Best' campaign, which she said will focus on childhood well-being, social media use and opioid abuse. Melania joined her husband last month to host the Prime Minister of Japan for a two-day summit at the Trumps' Florida estate, while they also hosted the President of France at the White House on a three-day State visit, including a lavish State dinner. Melania also represented the administration at the April funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.

The Trumps and their marriage have been under scrutiny in recent months after revelations that a porn actress was paid $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about claims she had sex with Trump in 2006. Trump has acknowledged reimbursing his lawyer for the payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, but denies her allegations.

Separately, a former Playboy model has also revived her allegations of a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006. Trump also denies the allegations from Karen McDougal.

Melania, at times, has been noticeably absent from her husband's side. But both made a point of displaying affection during last week's Rose Garden event where she announced the 'Be Best' initiative.

The First Lady lived full time in New York during the administration's opening months, so Barron would not have to change schools mid-year. She and Barron moved to the White House last June.


Updated Date: May 15, 2018 09:12 AM

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