The 94-year-old former South African president Nelson Mandela is in "serious but stable" condition after being admitted to the hospital for a recurrence of a lingering lung infection for the third time in eight months on Saturday. Mandela is suffering from pneumonia, presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj told reporters. It's the second time in four months Mandela's come down with pneumonia. Graca Machel, his wife, cancelled a planned trip to London to stay with Mandela in the hospital.
The South African government said Mandela was sent to the hospital early Saturday morning after his condition deteriorated over the last few days. "He remains in a serious but stable condition," the government statement said. Maharaj said Mandela was breathing on his own once again, and that was a "positive side."
Mandela's latest trip to the hospital is raising concern both at home and abroad for very obvious reasons. It's troubling anytime a 94-year-old is admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, but, also, Mandela's lung infections have become increasingly common over the last few months. In December, Mandela spent 18 days in the hospital -- the longest time he'd been hospitalized since he was a prisoner under minority rule in 1990 -- for gallstones surgery. In March, Mandela stayed for ten days when he had to get fluids drained from his chest. Mandela was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a disease that causes long term lung problems, in 1988 while working in a quarry as a political prisoner.
Mandela is supposed to turn 95 next month.