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(photo credit: AP [file])
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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's condition was reported stable, but still serious, Friday evening after doctors evaluated a CAT scan that followed a three-hour operation earlier in the day.
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef announced at 5:35 p.m. that the intracranial pressure had been relieved, and blood clots remaining from the previous operation successfully drained.
Mor-Yosef said that neurologists and neurosurgeons at Hadassah agreed that the most recent CAT scan results showed a 'significant' improvement in Sharon's condition. He added that doctors were working to adjust the placement of the catherer, and that Sharon would be moved to neurological intensive care, where he would be closely monitered.
The latest CAT scan followed a three-hour operation earlier Friday, the third the prime minister had undergone since he arrived at the hospital Wednesday night.
Earlier Friday Sharon was rushed back to the operating room after a precautionary CAT scan performed on him late Friday morning showed new bleeding in the same area of the brain and an expansion in his cerebral ventricles.
Professor Mor-Yosef told reporters that Sharon was experiencing an escalation in cranial and blood pressure.
"It was decided to bring the prime minister to the operating room in order to deal with these two issues, to drain the bleeding and to decrease the intracranial pressure," he said.
Doctors did not elaborate on Sharon's prognosis, but an aide to Shimon Peres said the veteran Israeli politician's staff was told that Sharon's situation is "not good." The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because only Peres' spokesman was authorized to speak to the media.
Following a traumatic day for Israel, in which Sharon nearly lost his life after suffering an initial extensive cranial hemorrhage, the dir.-gen. of the hospital reported Friday morning that Sharon's condition remained serious but stable and that his vital signs remained strong.
The prime minister had continued to be sedated and was being held in the neuro-surgical unit of the hospital.
A number of Israeli doctors criticized the treatment Sharon received after his first, "minor", stroke, saying that the prime minister's return to work affected the development of Sharon's cerebral hemorrhage.
A senior doctor claimed Friday morning that he "didn't understand how the prime minister, two weeks after a stroke and the night before he was supposed to undergo catheterization, was allowed to spend the night at an isolated ranch in the south of the country."
In an interview to Army Radio, Professor Shmuel Shapira, Deputy Director of Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, refuted criticism of Sharon's treatment. "We are very pleased," Shapira said. "We wish everyone would receive this level of care, decisions made this quickly."
Sources at Hadassah Hospital said late Thursday night that Sharon suffered extensive damage to the right lobe of his brain during the hemorrhage which he suffered Wednesday night.
They noted that such damage may negatively affect his motor capabilites in the left side of his body, as well as possible deterioration in speech.
The sourced revealed that Sharon's medical condition might have been caused by personal or emotional stress. They couldn't reject the possibility that the recent reports of developments in the police investigations against Sharon severely harmed his health.
Mor-Yosef, in a Thursday evening press conference, reasserted that the prime minister's condition was still serious but stable since the afternoon. He noted that all of the parameters that were measured - blood pressure, pulse, urine production, intracranial pressure - were all within the standards expected for someone in Sharon's condition.
The prime minister was placed in an induced coma and was artificially respirated since his surgery on Thursday morning.
Mor-Yosef explained that the prime minister's medical treatment was meant to reduce his inter-cranial pressure to allow his brain to recover from the trauma of both his hemorrhaging and the surgeries which he underwent.
It was later revealed that a CAT scan machine was to be brought into Sharon's room on Friday in order to see if all of the hemorrhaging was controlled or whether there were still sources of bleeding in his brain.
In response to a reporter's question, Mor-Yosef mentioned that the prime minister responded properly to an examination of his pupils. Sharon was expected to be awakened from his coma on Sunday in order to assess his motor and cognitive capabilities. Only then will his condition be more fully assessed.
The hospital official emphasized that the treatment was one that takes time, that it "is not run with a stopwatch. It is not the kind of treatment that could keep pace with 21st century media coverage." He reported that it would take 48-72 hours to fully assess the situation.
Prof. Mor-Yosef insisted that the treatment which Sharon received during his last hospitalization and after his release, was appropriate.
He claimed that the decision to return to his intensive work after his last stroke was one which was reached by the prime minister after he received the approval of his doctors.
When Sharon felt ill Wednesday evening he was faced with the choice of going to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, which was much nearer to his Negev farm where he was located, or to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where he was hospitalized two weeks earlier.
Mor-Yosef backed the choice of hospitalization in Hadassah, since he was treated there previously, and the staff knew him well. The prime minister was initially scheduled to undergo catheterization at the hospital in order to repair a congenital hole in his heart.
Earlier Thursday, Mor-Yosef was required to refute rumors that Sharon had passed away. He promised to notify the public were any changes to occur.
Sharon was first brought to Hadassah-University Hospital Wednesday night after complaining of weakness and chest pressure and pain. While on his way to the hospital, Sharon's spokesmen claimed that the prime minister was conscious and able to speak, but had complained that he was suffering from weakness and "felt ill."
It initially appeared that his condition was not life-threatening. According to well-placed sources, there were two deteriorations, the first just prior to the arrival at Hadassah and the second, upon entering the trauma unit.
While at the hospital it was discovered that the prime minister suffered from massive cerebral bleeding. After a six-hour operation that continued for most of Wednesday night, the prime minister returned to the operating room early Thursday morning following a CAT scan that revealed additional areas of cerebral bleeding.
Some doctors proffered an opinion that the process of stopping Sharon's brain hemorrhage was complicated by the blood thinners that the prime minister has been receiving twice daily since his first, minor, stroke some two weeks ago. Hadassah doctors neither confirmed nor denied this theory.
Due to his severe medical condition, Sharon's duties and authorities were transferred to Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The acting prime minister convened a special cabinet meeting on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in order to brief the ministers on the temporary transfer of powers.
Following the delicate situation that stirred the whole political system, the Likud froze its decision to resign from the government, originally planned for Sunday, to a later time. Across the whole political spectrum, politicians called for support and unity during this period of uncertainty.
Messages wishing Sharon a complete and speedy recovery poured in from across Israel and the rest of the world. The Arab world reacted with a mixture of concern and celebration.
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