President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his wife, Melania, is “doing really well” although she remains hospitalized following a medical procedure to treat a kidney condition the White House described as benign. He said he expected the first lady back home at the White House before the end of the week.
The president also praised her doctors for doing a “fantastic job.”
“Melania is doing really well. She’s watching us right now,” Trump said as he addressed an annual tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The ceremony at a police memorial near the Capitol was broadcast live on cable TV.
“And I want to thank the incredible doctors …They did a fantastic job,” he said.
During a later appearance at the Capitol to join Republican senators for their weekly lunch, Trump reiterated that his wife is “really doing well.”
“Really successful,” he said. “The doctors were incredible. So, Walter Reed … was really fantastic.”
Trump had tweeted earlier Tuesday that the first lady “will be leaving hospital in 2 or 3 days.” Her spokeswoman had said in a statement Monday announcing the “embolization” procedure that the first lady was likely to remain hospitalized for “the duration of the week.”
The president and first lady spoke by telephone on Monday, before the procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, and on Tuesday, the White House said. He also spent time with her at the hospital on Monday evening after she had been treated.
The White House declared the procedure “successful” but has withheld additional information about her condition, citing the first lady’s right to privacy. Vice President Mike Pence, however, said in a speech Monday night that the procedure was “long-planned.”
Two urologists who have no personal knowledge of Mrs. Trump’s condition said the most likely explanation for the embolization procedure is a kind of noncancerous kidney tumor called an angiomyolipoma.
They’re not common but tend to occur in middle-aged women and can cause problematic bleeding if they become large enough, said Dr. Keith Kowalczyk of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Mrs. Trump is 48.
“The treatment of choice” is to cut off the blood supply so the growth shrinks, added Dr. Lambros Stamatakis of MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Doctors do that with an embolization, meaning a catheter is snaked into the blood vessels of the kidney to find the right one and block it.
Most of the time, these benign tumors are found when people undergo medical scans for another reason, but sometimes people have pain or other symptoms, Kowalczyk said. Many times, embolization patients go home the same day or the next.
The first lady was last seen in public at a White House event Wednesday where she and the president honored military mothers and spouses for Mother’s Day. She later accompanied Trump to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to welcome home three Americans who had been released from detention in North Korea.
The Slovenia-born former model married Trump in 2005. They have a 12-year-old son, Barron.
Mrs. Trump, who has been raising her profile as first lady, recently hosted a state dinner — her first — for the president of France. She also launched a public awareness campaign called “Be Best” to help teach kindness to children as the president sat in the audience in the Rose Garden.
The first lady joined her husband last month to host Japan’s prime minister for a two-day summit at the Trumps’ Florida estate, and the Trumps hosted France’s president at the White House on a three-day state visit, including the lavish state dinner. Mrs. Trump also represented the administration at the April funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush.
The Trumps’ marriage has come under scrutiny in recent months after revelations that a porn actress was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about claims she had sex with Trump in 2006. Trump has acknowledged reimbursing his lawyer for the payment to Stormy Daniels but denies her allegations. Separately, a former Playboy model has revived her allegations of a 10-month affair with Trump, also in 2006. Trump also denies the allegations from Karen McDougal.
Mrs. Trump has, at times, been noticeably absent from her husband’s side though both made a point of displaying affection in the Rose Garden last week.
The first lady lived full time in New York during the administration’s opening months so Barron would not have to change schools midyear. She and Barron moved to the White House last June.
AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard and Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.