Italian Berlusconi has been diagnosed with leukemia, doctors say

ROME – Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s doctors say he is being treated for a lung infection which suggests he has a ‘chronic blood disease’ which is a type of leukaemia.

Berlusconi’s personal physician, Alberto Zangrillo, signed a medical bulletin released Thursday afternoon that said Berlusconi “has had leukemia for some time” in a “persistent chronic phase.”

The 86-year-old media mogul, who served three terms as Italy’s prime minister and now sits in the Senate, was admitted to San Raffaele Hospital in Milan on Wednesday for treatment of what aides said was a problem breathing resulting from a previous infection.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

ROME (AP) — Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is alert and in stable condition on his second day in intensive care at a Milan hospital, a close political ally said Thursday, adding he could not confirm Italian media reports that Berlusconi had been diagnosed. with leukemia.

“I spoke this morning with Professor (Alberto) Zangrillo. He told me that Prime Minister Berlusconi had passed the night quietly,” said Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who is the coordinator of Forza Italia, the political party that media magnate Berlusconi created a year ago. thirty years.

“His condition is stable,” Tajani said in an interview with Italian public television.

Zangrillo, Berlusconi’s longtime doctor, is chief anesthesiologist at San Raffaele Hospital, where his patient is being treated. The former three-time prime minister and now senator had left the same hospital a week ago after several days of testing.

So far, Zangrillo has not explained why Berlusconi, 86, was hospitalized.

A Culture Ministry undersecretary who has long been a prominent Forza Italia legislator told reporters that Berlusconi had leukemia. According to Italian media in Turin, Vittorio Sgarbi said the former prime minister “is facing an obviously difficult situation, from which he miraculously has to get out, and all his friends hope that he will get out of it”.

Sgarbi, an art critic by profession, did not say where he heard about the diagnosis.

Asked by an Italian journalist about Sgarbi’s remarks, Tajani replied: “I am not a doctor” and therefore could not comment.

On Wednesday, shortly after Berlusconi was admitted to hospital, Tajani said the three-time former prime minister suffered from a respiratory problem stemming from a previous infection.

Without citing any sources, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that Berlusconi had received chemotherapy.

Berlusconi’s party whip in Italy’s lower house of parliament, Paolo Barelli, told reporters that Berlusconi was “responding to the treatment”, but Barelli declined to specify what type.

One of Berlusconi’s closest aides did not respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment on the leukemia report.

A statement from Forza Italia said Berlusconi telephoned several party officials on Thursday morning about political matters.

Meanwhile, family members continued to visit Berlusconi. Her brother, Paolo, her eldest daughter, Marina, and her younger son, Luigi, were spotted arriving at the hospital.

The past few years have seen Berlusconi suffer from numerous health issues, including heart disease and COVID-19 in 2020, which saw him hospitalized and then in critical condition with pneumonia.

He’s had a pacemaker for years, had heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016, and beat prostate cancer decades ago.

Her brother had no comment when he arrived at the hospital on Thursday morning. But when he left the hospital the night before, Paolo Berlusconi said of his brother: “He is a rock. So he will succeed this time too.

On March 31, Berlusconi tweeted upon his release from hospital after a battery of tests that he was “ready and determined to commit as I have always done for the country I love”.

With no apparent political heir despite Berlusconi’s multiple health setbacks, Forza Italia has seen its popularity in the polls plummet to a fraction of what it was years ago when voters helped propel it. several times as Prime Minister despite his legal setbacks.

Among the messages for a speedy recovery was that of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who tweeted “Forza Silvio”, riffing on the football chant Berlusconi turned into the name of his political party, which is currently one of two junior partners of the coalition in the nearly six of Meloni. – month-old right-wing government.

During a roll-call vote of confidence in the Senate on Wednesday when Berlusconi’s name was called and an official declared ‘absent’, a round of applause erupted from across the political spectrum in the upper house. of Parliament.

The seat in the Senate won by Berlusconi in September is the fruit of his last political comeback. Ten years ago, he was barred from holding public office following a conviction for tax evasion stemming from dealings in his media empire.

Last year he sparked an uproar with comments about his old friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin, bragging that the two had exchanged birthday wishes. Berlusconi also blamed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the war.


Luca Bruno in Milan contributed to this report.

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