(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon's continued to be in "grave" condition Friday morning as his health remained mostly unchanged since the hospital treating him announced on Thursday of a dramatic deterioration in the 85-year-old's medical status.
The Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer said the comatose former premier was facing his "final hours".
The hospital downgraded Sharon’s status to very critical on Thursday. Hospital officials said he was in immediate danger of death and that others in his condition would not have lasted as long as he has.
Sharon's family gathered at the hospital to be with him in his final moments. His sons Omri and Gilad have been by his side since his condition deteriorated on January 1.
“He is fighting and we are here with him all the time,” Omri Sharon told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday afternoon.
Sharon’s vital organs have failed, including his kidneys and his lungs. His blood pressure and heartbeat, which returned to normal on Monday, deteriorated again on Thursday.
Media from around the world gathered at the hospital to deliver the news in case the former prime minister’s death was announced. Police distanced photographers and prevented them from taking pictures of the Sharon family.
Roni Sehayek, who was raised in the Sharon household, came out to the media and said, “The situation is not good” but would not elaborate.
“It is surreal,” said Dalia, a 65-year-old patient at the hospital in Tel Hashomer. “I am used to seeing crowds here awaiting a birth. I am not used to seeing so many people waiting for a death. But an era is ending and this is part of history.”
Sharon’s career ended in January 2006 when he suffered a debilitating stroke, his second in under a month. Since then, he has been in a coma on life-support systems.
Sheba director Ze’ev Rotstein said on Monday that only a miracle could save Sharon’s life. A day earlier, Rotstein said that Sharon, whose first name means lion in Hebrew, was “fighting like a lion.”
If Sharon dies, the Prime Minister’s Office will organize a state funeral. Current and former world leaders are expected to come to Israel to attend it. His body would lie in state at the Knesset before the funeral at his Negev ranch, and he would be buried beside his wife Lily, who died in 2000.