April 06, 2023
Former Prime Minister, 86, is being treated in the cardiology unit at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital
Silvio Berlusconi in Rome in October. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP
By Angela Giuffrida in Rome | The Guardian
MILAN – The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been diagnosed with leukaemia, according to reports, a day after he was admitted to intensive care with breathing problems.
The 86-year-old was admitted to Milan’s San Raffaele hospital on Wednesday, where he is being treated in the cardiology unit.
Corriere della Sera reported that the media tycoon, who was only discharged from the same hospital last week, has leukaemia while Ansa news reports that he is being treated for “a serious blood disorder” and related cardiovascular problems.
Hospital sources told Rai News that Berlusconi had “a tranquil night” but did not expect there to be an official statement on his health.
The press office for Forza Italia, a junior partner in Italy’s ruling government coalition, said in a statement that Berlusconi telephoned party officials, including the foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, on Thursday morning.
“He greeted them affectionately and recommended the utmost commitment in parliament, government and Forza Italy because ‘the country needs us!’” the statement said. “Everyone assured him that they would not fail to be more attentive, loyal and present in following his instructions, while waiting for him to soon recover and return to being the fighter he has always been.”
Berlusconi’s family members have visited him in hospital. “He’s a rock, so he is going to make it this time as well,” his brother Paolo said as he left the hospital on Wednesday night.
Berlusconi, who led three Italian governments between early 1994 and 2011, has had several episodes of ill-health in recent years.
In 2016, he underwent surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve and was in hospital with Covid-19 in September 2020. He subsequently suffered from lingering ailments related to the virus, an experience he described as “the worst of my life”.