Mother Teresa suffering breathing problems

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The Independent Online
THE CONDITION of Mother Teresa, who has malaria, worsened slightly last night. Doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi said that the recovery of the 82-year-old Nobel Peace Prize- winner has been slowed by 'massive breathing problems'. She was admitted to hospital on Friday.

A hospital spokesman described her condition as 'not too worrisome'. He said: 'She was shifted to the coronary care unit because her heart condition needs continuous monitoring.' Mother Teresa was fitted with a pacemaker in 1989 after suffering a second heart attack which nearly killed her.

Lung infections set in on Saturday night. Her breathing was reported to have improved slightly by morning, but she relapsed yesterday afternoon. She was said to be 'cheerful and smiling' despite her high temperature. Hundreds of well-wishers sent flowers to the hospital.

In Calcutta, at the home where Mother Teresa began her work caring for the city's dying beggars, nuns belonging to her order, the Missionaries of Charity, kept a vigil through the night, praying for her recovery.

Doctors are not certain whether Mother Teresa, who is probably the most widely known and admired Catholic aside from the Pope, was bitten by a malarial mosquito in Calcutta or New Delhi. She arrived in the Indian capital last week to receive an award given by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

Mother Teresa will be 83 on Friday. Aside from the malaria, she suffers from a disease which gnarls her feet and spine, making it increasingly difficult for her to walk.

Nuns have been trying to relieve Mother Teresa of some of her more strenuous chores, but she refuses. She still rises at 4.30am, goes to Mass, then travels to her Home for the Destitute and Dying. There, behind a Hindu temple dedicated to Kali, the goddess of Destruction, she washes the corpses of those beggars who died the previous night and prepares them for funeral rites, regardless of whether they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians.

'Mother Teresa can't take the full dose of medicine to treat the malaria because it affects the heart and this is complicating her treatment,' Sister Joanne, a member of her Missonaries of Charity, said. 'The fever comes and goes and the doctors aren't sure how long it will take her to recover.'

Despite her fragile health, Mother Teresa has been travelling widely. She returned to her native Albania earlier this year. Heart problems forced her to convalesce in Rome before returning to India.