Mandela responding to treatment for pneumonia

Story highlights

  • Mandela, 94, is "able to breathe without difficulty," his spokesman says
  • He is undergoing treatment for a recurring lung infection
  • The Nobel Peace Prize winner led the nation during its transition from apartheid
  • His lung problems date back to years in prison, where he contracted tuberculosis

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is breathing without difficulty in a hospital, where he is responding to treatment for pneumonia, the presidential spokesman said Saturday.

Doctors withdrew excess fluid that had accumulated in the space surrounding his lungs as a result of an infection, said Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for President Jacob Zuma.

"This has resulted in him now being able to breathe without difficulty," he said. "He continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable."

Mandela, 94, was readmitted this week to an unidentified hospital for treatment for a recurring lung infection.

Maharaj said Friday that Mandela, who led the country out of white minority rule, was in "good spirits" and enjoyed a full breakfast.

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It's the second time this month he has been hospitalized. More than two weeks ago, he was taken to a hospital for what officials described as a routine checkup.

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He underwent treatment for a lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones over the Christmas holiday, one of his longest hospital stays since his release from prison in 1990.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has become increasingly frail over the years and has not appeared in public since South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010.

His history of lung problems dates back to the time when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. He contracted tuberculosis during the 27 years he was imprisoned.

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