Mon, Jan 09, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Sharon's political career is finished, his surgeon says


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's latest brain scan showed some improvement and his doctors said yesterday that they would bring him out of an induced coma within a day to assess brain damage. One of his surgeons ruled out the possibility of Sharon returning to office.

Sharon, who suffered a debilitating stroke last week, remained in critical condition yesterday at Hadassah Hospital. But his vital signs, including intracranial pressure, were normal, Dr Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the hospital's director, said after doctors completed a new brain scan of Sharon.

"His condition is still critical but stable, and there is improvement in the CT picture of the brain," Dr Mor-Yosef said. He did not answer questions from reporters and gave no prognosis.

But one of Sharon's surgeons, Dr Jose Cohen, was quoted as saying that while Sharon's chances of survival from the stroke are high, his ability to think and reason would be impaired.

"He will not continue to be prime minister, but maybe he will be able to understand and to speak," the Argentina-born Cohen said in comments published yesterday by the Jerusalem Post. His remarks reinforced the widespread belief that Sharon's days as prime minister are over.

A senior official at Hadassah suggested that even Cohen's dire assessment might be too optimistic.

"There was expression of hopes and thoughts ... in which some people expressed optimism," Dr Yair Birenboim, the No. 2 administrator at Hadassah, told Israel Army Radio. "That was definitely an expression that we think was premature."

Birenboim is not directly involved in Sharon's treatment, but is briefed on the prime minister's condition, hospital officials said.

Sharon has been hospitalized since suffering the stroke on Wednesday night. He has undergone two rounds of surgery to stop bleeding in the brain and to relieve pressure inside his skull.

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