First Lady Melania Trump has been completely unseen in public since returning home from the hospital last Saturday — but her husband insists she still remains “right there.”
The 48-year-old has not been spotted since Thursday, May 10, when she stood next to her husband to welcome home three Americans at Joint Base Andrews, according to the Washington Post.
Four days later, her office made the surprise announcement that the first lady had undergone a “successful” kidney procedure, but would remain hospitalized for the remainder of the week.
She returned home May 19, but was completely out of the spotlight this week, which the Post notes is an “unusually long absence” for even the most private presidential spouses.
But her time away from the public did not seem to perturb her husband, President Donald Trump, who instead appeared to insist that she was quite close to gathered reporters at the White House Friday morning as he prepared to board Marine One and travel to Annapolis, Maryland, for the U.S. Naval Academy graduation ceremony.
When a reporter asked about the first lady’s health, he pointed up toward the second floor of the White House from the south entrance and replied, “She’s doing great. Right there. She’s doing great. She’s looking at us, right there.”
But as reporters turned to follow his outstretched finger, they saw no sign of his wife, reports the Post.
President Trump pointed to a window in the White House.
"She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there."
Reporters turned to look. There was no sign of the first lady. https://t.co/JxPiSJJuVq
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 25, 2018
The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, tells PEOPLE that Melania Trump “is doing very well and has been participating in several internal meetings with her staff to plan upcoming events.”
But her return to public life remains a mystery — Grisham did not specifically say when she would be seen again — as does the first lady’s unusually long hospital stay for a “successful” kidney embolization.
Leading medical experts who spoke with The New York Times said they would consider a week-long hospital stay unusual in typical cases of this procedure.
“It’s like literally an outpatient procedure,” said Dr. Eleanor D. Lederer, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and past president of the American Society of Nephrology. “You go in, you have it done, you lie in bed for a while to keep the blood vessel from bleeding and then you go home.”
But Dr. Jeffrey Cadeddu, a professor of urology and radiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said her hospital stay has most likely been extended due to her position.
“That’s because she is the first lady,” he said. “If it was you, you’d be in and out in a day, I promise.”