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St. Petersburg's Bishop Lynch says he was near death

Bishop Robert N. Lynch, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, came close to death three weeks ago when he developed sepsis after surgery to remove a suspicious polyp in his colon.

Lynch, who remains in intensive care at an undisclosed hospital, wrote about the infection and the surgery for the first time Tuesday in his blog. He was rushed into a second surgery Aug. 6.

"The consequences were so challenging that my nephew Christopher felt it necessary to convene the family as my life seemed to teeter minute-by-minute, and hour-by-hour,'' the bishop wrote.

"In the intervening days my strength has returned; although I believe that I have not yet reached 50% of what is necessary to return home.''

Blogging for the first time since July 26, the day before his first surgery, Lynch, 68, said he expected to remain in the hospital for about two more weeks. He added that another surgery will be scheduled "at some uncertain date in the future."

Lynch first made his health problems public in a July 7 post. He said then that a colonoscopy July 6 had revealed a large polyp and that his gastroenterologist advised it be removed and tested for colorectal cancer. He said the doctor found that an outer portion of the polyp was not cancerous and that he was "hoping and praying for the same result when the entire mass is removed."

He has not revealed whether the mass was cancerous, but said in his blog that the surgery was "very successful.'' He had expected to return home within days when he developed sepsis, a bacterial infection in the bloodstream.

Parishioners across the diocese that spans Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties have been flooding Lynch's St. Petersburg office with notes, cards and posters of well wishes. They're being stacked on a conference table, said Frank Murphy, director of communications for the diocese. "The other day, we took a picture of it just to cheer him up,'' Murphy said.

Lynch, consecrated bishop of the diocese in January 1996, wrote that he has kept his whereabouts a secret to give himself time to regain his strength.

St. Petersburg's Bishop Lynch says he was near death 08/18/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 9:42pm]
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