President Donald Trump dropped everything Tuesday afternoon, rushing to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be with the first lady as she recovers from a surgery “to treat a benign kidney condition.”
After honoring fallen police officers at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service with a speech at the U.S. Capitol West Front, the president cleared his itinerary and took Marine One on a ten-minute flight to the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland to be with his wife.
In sickness and in health
First Lady Melania Trump was hospitalized on Monday to treat a kidney condition. The 48-year-old mother underwent an “embolization procedure,” and the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, assured supporters that the “procedure was successful and there were no complications.”
Designed to shrink a mass or cut off the blood supply to a tumor or aneurysm that may be growing in the kidney or liver, an embolization surgery is a quick and non-invasive procedure. Mrs. Trump’s growth was benign, meaning that it was non-cancerous and would not spread to other parts of her body if left untreated.
Before departing for the hospital at around 4:00 p.m., Trump provided updates regarding his wife’s health at the police memorial. He opened up his speech by immediately addressing the first lady’s recovery:
I want to start by saying that Melania is in the hospital doing really well. She’s watching us right now. And I want to thank the incredible doctors — Walter Reed Medical Center. They did a fantastic job. So thank you. (Applause.) And she sends her love.
This was the president’s second visit to Walter Reed in as many days. Just hours after her surgical procedure on Monday, Trump was present to comfort his wife of 13 years and offer words of encouragement.
Complications from surgery?
However, Trump’s return trip to the medical facility was an unplanned visit, fueling speculation that the first lady’s extended stay was an unexpected development for doctors.
Dr. John Friedewald, medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Women’s Health that embolization procedures are “generally well tolerated,” and lingering side effects normally only include fever, pain and injection site bleeding.
Most patients who undergo the same surgery as Mrs. Trump are sent home after just a couple of hours, perhaps explaining the urgency behind the president’s follow-on visit. A patient education page from Northwestern Medicine explains what a typical post-operative recovery may look like:
Typically, you will remain in recovery for one to two hours. Your vital signs will be checked one last time, and you will be asked to walk a short distance with a nurse. If you feel well enough to go home, a nurse will remove your IV and you will change and be discharged for home.
Northwestern Medicine also includes scenarios in which the patient should contact their doctor, providing some clues regarding what can go wrong during an embolization procedure. These signs and symptoms include fever, cramping in the abdomen, “severe, persistent nausea or vomiting,” and redness or bleeding around the injection site.
Did Melania Trump suffer from any of these unexpected side effects following her impromptu surgery this week? Based on the president’s concerned response, she may be experiencing complications from the relatively minor surgery.
Fortunately, Melania Trump not only has the president by her side — she also has the support of an entire nation who are wishing her a swift recovery.