On Monday, CNN broke the news that First Lady Melania Trump had been hospitalized. She had undergone kidney surgery in an attempt to treat an issue her office described as “benign,” according to CNN, and will stay there for the rest of the week. Her surgery was successful and there were no complications, according to a statement released by her office.
The statement reads: “This morning, First Lady Melania Trump underwent an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition. The procedure was successful and there were no complications. Mrs. Trump is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and will likely remain there for the duration of the week. The First Lady looks forward to a full recovery so she can continue her work on behalf of children everywhere.”
Exactly what kind of procedure Melania Trump had is top-secret. The White House is saying only that the issue was benign, involved her kidney, and requires an “embolization procedure.” An embolization procedure is a kind of surgery that blocks blood flow to a specific area of the body — usually, some kind of atypical growth. Blocking the blood flow to that area or growth can then cut off its blood supply and incapacitate it.
According to one expert on CNN, there’s no obvious answer to what kind of “condition” the first lady was hoping to treat. Said Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN, “When I hear benign kidney condition, most of the time you’re thinking a cyst. But a cyst is not typically embolized.” He added that a cyst also wouldn’t require the kind of surgery that would require several days in hospital. This implies that whatever benign condition the first lady aimed to treat involved something more substantial than a cyst.
Given that Melania Trump is expected to be in hospital until the end of the week, and that news of her surgery broke only on Monday afternoon, her hospital stay is probably roughly a week long in total. At 48, she is young enough that a weeklong hospital stay would suggest a fairly serious surgery.
Yet her husband’s absence, on the other hand, implies that the surgery was fairly routine.
According to Gupta’s analysis on CNN, a standard embolization procedure for a cyst or similar issue would be minor. It is likely to require keyhole surgery, also known as laparoscopic surgery, he added. This would require only two nights in hospital, according to WebMD — a long way from the roughly seven-night hospital stay Melania Trump will experience.
Thus far, the sheer length of her hospital stay is the only clue as to the exact nature of Trump’s condition or ensuing surgery. What is known, however, is that few first ladies in history have undergone a serious surgery of this nature. The last, according to CNN, was Nancy Reagan in 1987, when she underwent a mastectomy.
The first lady has already been in the spotlight this month. Just last week, she unveiled her flagship initiative “Be Best,” which has three key pillars: ensuring the well-being of America’s young people, fighting the growing issue of opioid abuse, and taking a stand against cyberbullying and other negative aspects of social media. Given her husband’s social media habits, the well-intended initiative quickly came under fire, with Saturday Night Live spoofing it over the weekend.
In the hours since the news broke, much has been made of the fact that the president did not accompany his wife during her hospital visit, particularly since the official White House calendar shows that his workload seemed light Monday.
Neither the president nor the first lady has yet commented on the procedure.