Story highlights

Tutu, 84, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984

He played a key role in South Africa's transition from the apartheid era

Johannesburg CNN  — 

Tutu played a key role in South Africa’s transition from the apartheid era, including serving as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the direction of then-President Nelson Mandela.

“The Archbishop has a special word of praise for the warmth and compassion of those who work in hospitals, describing them as extraordinary human beings,” said a statement issued Wednesday on behalf of the Tutu family.

Tutu, 84, had been readmitted to a Cape Town hospital Saturday after he started showing signs of infection following surgery he had earlier this month.

After his discharge Wednesday, Tutu’s wife Leah “expressed appreciation to the Archbishop’s doctors, the hospital staff who cared for him, and all who have sent good wishes.”

Tutu underwent hospital tests for a persistent infection in 2013. A year later, he canceled travel plans because of a long-running battle with prostate cancer, first diagnosed in 1997.

Tutu, the first black archbishop of Cape Town, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid. In his later years, he has remained active with the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and other organizations.

He played a key role in South Africa’s transition from the apartheid era, including serving as chairman of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the direction of then-President Nelson Mandela.

CNN’s Brent Swails reported from Johannesburg. CNN’s Jason Hanna and Ralph Ellis contributed.