Monday, January 09, 2006

Sleeper: Awaken!

"Doctors´┐ŻBegin to Bring Sharon Out of Coma" sez the Washington Post

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon began breathing on his own Monday morning soon after doctors began the delicate process of reviving him from a medically-induced coma.

Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of the Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital where Sharon is being treated, announced that the 77-year-old prime minister began "breathing spontaneously" once doctors began a staged reduction in the level of anesthesia that has kept him unconscious since he suffered a massive stroke last week.

He cautioned that Sharon remained in critical condition, but said his breathing represented "the first sign of some sort of activity in his brain."

The step marks the beginning of what could be a days-long process of assessing the scope of any brain damage Sharon might have suffered during the stroke and subsequent brain hemorrhaging.

"I want to emphasize that his process will continue for several hours, and maybe several days," Mor-Yosef said. "This is not a process of something dramatic, but this change is the first change."

Doctors had decided after a positive brain scan Sunday to begin rousing Sharon, who has been breathing with help from a respirator, from the deep sedation administered to give his brain a chance to rest from the trauma of the stroke and three emergency surgeries conducted to control extensive bleeding in the right-side of his brain.

The results of that test showed the condition of his brain had improved slightly, a determination consistent with two previous scans taken since the last emergency surgery to stop hemorrhaging. Mor-Yosef said the most recent test showed that the level of swelling in Sharon's brain had declined, and that his overall condition remained critical but stable.

"In light of all these factors, the panel of experts decided to start the process of taking him out of the sedation" Monday morning, Mor-Yosef said Sunday. "This all depends, of course, on whether the prime minister makes it until tomorrow without any significant incidents."

The announcement that Sharon had begun breathing on his own came a day after his cabinet convened for its first regular meeting since the prime minister was taken to the hospital Wednesday evening complaining of chest pain. His doctors have not been optimistic about his prognosis for a full recovery given the severity of the stroke and extent of the bleeding.

But his response Monday was the latest encouraging sign that he may survive. Late last week, his doctors said the left side of his brain, which controls speech and other important faculties in right-handed people such as Sharon, may not have suffered damage from the hemorrhage-induced swelling, as they had originally feared.

Ehud Olmert, the deputy prime minister who has temporarily assumed authority of the government, ran the cabinet meeting from his regular chair. Beside him was the larger seat usually occupied by his longtime political ally.

"Israeli democracy is strong and all institutions are functioning in a stable, serious and responsible manner," Olmert said. "This is how it should be and this is how it will continue."
All Fools and people of goodwill should continue to pray for Israel's Prime Minister and wish him well. Whatever opinions people may have about his decision to evacuate Gaza, no one should question his courage or his heart. Ariel Sharon broke with his own Likud party in order to establish a coalition that would continue to pursue what he considered the best path to Israeli-Palestinian peace. His loss would be a national tragedy for the Palestinians as well as for the Jewish State.

May Kadima survive the Prime Minister, should he be unable to return to politics. But may he return. Somehow.