Just two weeks ago, First Lady Melania Trump entered Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for an undisclosed routine procedure on either one or both of her kidneys. Shortly after her surgery, the President tweeted that she was recovering well in hospital. Then, she promptly disappeared from the public eye. Naturally, the public managed to invent a long list of conspiracies to explain her absence.
• First, the good news: Melania tweeted from her Twitter account on June 1, reporting that she is alive and well. “I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I’m doing. Rest assured, I’m here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!”
• Conspiracy theories about where the First Lady might be and what may have happened to her during her 21-day absence ranged from utterly ridiculous to slightly believable. All were largely perpetuated by online forums and fake news media.
• At least one theory suggested that Melania had left her husband to go and live with the Obamas, where she was allegedly writing an expose about her husband.
• Another suggested that Walter Reed had secretly botched her surgery, killing her in the process. This included a small number of theorists who suggested that “the Illuminati” was buying time to create her clone through her absence.
• More innocuous theories included reasonably believable storylines. At least one theory suggested that the FLOTUS and POTUS were fighting, and so Melania had returned to New York to live separately from her husband. This, too, is completely untrue.
• We don’t know the details of Melania’s treatment, but the White House did state that she was being treated for a “benign condition.” Several news outlets reported that the procedure was an embolization, which is sometimes used to treat benign and cancerous tumors of the kidney.
• Doctors also use embolization to treat renal arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a congenital condition that results in the development of malformed blood vessels.
• Neither Melania nor the White House have confirmed rumors that the FLOTUS has cancer or AVM. Instead, they are asserting that she is alive, well, and free from health concerns at this time.