What a colonoscopy is, as Joe Biden briefly transfers power during routine procedure
President Joe Biden is undergoing a “routine colonoscopy”, the White House confirmed on Friday.
He will briefly transfer power to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday when he is under anaesthesia.
Here is everything you need to know about the procedure, and the US President’s health history.
A colonoscopy is a test to check inside your bowels, and it can help find what’s causing bowel symptoms.
During the procedure a long, thin, flexible tube with a small camera inside is passed into your bottom, and it is considered a safe procedure.
It can be performed for a variety of purposes, with the NHS explaining: “A colonoscopy is often done to check what’s causing your bowel symptoms, such as:
• bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo
• diarrhoea or constipation that does not go away
• losing weight or feeling really tired for no reason
“Most of the time it will not find anything to worry about.”
What has happened with President Joe Biden?
Mr Biden’s colonoscopy is part of his routine physical exam as president.
He went to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre early on Friday, with press secretary Jen Psaki saying Biden would be under anaesthesia during the procedure.
The President, 78, had his last full exam in December 2019, when doctors found the former vice president to be “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency,” according to a doctor’s report at the time.
He is the oldest person to serve in the White House, and interest in his health has been high since he declared his candidacy in 2019.
Mr Biden is expected to continue his duties after the procedure on Friday afternoon, when he is scheduled to take part in the annual pardoning of the national Thanksgiving turkey.
When the President took office he brought Dr Kevin O’Connor, who has been Mr Biden’s primary care physician since 2009, to the White House to continue serving as his doctor.
Dr O’Connor was expected to lead a team of experts in conducting Biden’s physical exam Friday.
The White House said Mr Biden would authorise the release of a medical report, as is customary for presidents and presidential candidates.
Former President Donald Trump, 75, was sharply criticised for releasing only cursory details on his health while running and serving in the White House, including concealing the seriousness of his Covid-19 illness a month before the 2020 presidential election.
What is the President’s health history?
In 2019, Dr O’Connor wrote in a three-page note that the then-presidential candidate was in overall good shape.
The doctor added that since 2003, Biden has had episodes of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that’s potentially serious but treatable.
At the time, Dr O’Connor cited a list of tests that showed Mr Biden’s heart was functioning normally and his only needed care was a blood thinner to prevent the most worrisome risk, blood clots or stroke.
The President had a major health scare in 1988, requiring surgery to repair two brain aneurysms, weak bulges in arteries, one of them leaking.
Mr Biden has never had a recurrence, his doctor said, citing a test in 2014 that examined his arteries.
Once the Covid-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, Mr Biden’s team took intense steps to keep the then-candidate and now-president healthy as the virus took a disproportionate toll among older populations.
He received his first dose of the Covid jab in December 2020 and his second dose just two weeks before taking office.
Mr Biden also received a booster dose, which regulators say provides more enduring protection, in late September.
Why has he transferred power to Kamala Harris?
The President is transferring power to Kamala harris during his procedure, as is customary in the United States.
Under the 25th amendment, the President signs a letter to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives saying he is unable to discharge his duties while under anaesthesia.
This makes Mrs Harris the acting president, until the President sends another letter upon the conclusion of the procedure to resume his duties.
Ms Pskaki said: “As was the case when President George W. Bush had the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and following the process set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the Vice President for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia.
“The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time.”
Mrs Harris, the first woman, person of colour and person of South Asian descent to be vice president, will be making history during the short time she is serving as acting president.