Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has "stepped five meters away from the precipice" and is "no longer in immediate danger," said one of his anesthesiologists, Dr. Yoram Weiss, in a briefing outside Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem on Tuesday evening.
Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) director-general Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef added that while he continues to be in serious condition
, he moved his left arm for the first time in reaction to a pain stimulus, and the movements of his right arm and right leg were stronger on Tuesday than they were on Monday, when the prime minister's anesthesia drugs were first gradually reduced to bring him out of an induced coma.
All vital signs - such as pulse, blood pressure, urine production and intracranial pressure - remain steady and within the normal range, said Mor-Yosef - but he and Weiss said it would be impossible to assess the extent of his cognitive abilities for several days or even weeks.
The director general reported of an increased stability in Sharon's condition.
Later in the evening, the prime minister's son Omri Sharon issued a statement to the media in which he expressed his appreciation to the public for their concern towards his father
during this difficult time. He was also sure to thank the hospital staff, and in particular Sharon's physicians for their devoted care.
Soon after the first reduction of medication, Sharon began breathing by himself, although he continues to be connected to a hi-tech ventilator. The hospital management revealed on Tuesday that Sharon had been breathing more and more independently.
Sharon's independent movement on the left side of his body represented an improvement of his condition from Monday, when he first moved his right hand and leg "slightly but significantly" in response to pain stimulus.
The left side of his body is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, which is where Sharon experienced hemorrhaging during the end of last week.
Dr. Weiss added that there was still much room for progress, and urged the public to be patient. He related that a full assessment of Sharon's recovery could only be made once the coma-inducing drugs are cleared from his system - a process that could take days.
Prof. Mor-Yosef informed the media that the prime minister's physician would continue to gradually reduce the medication that held the prime minister in a coma since late Wednesday night, and would continue to monitor his neurological functions.
The hospital director asserted that, although Hadassah refrained from addressing any rumors that have abounded in the public, he felt the need to inform the media that Sharon's condition was correctly diagnosed shortly after he was hospitalized, and that the diagnosis had not changed since that time.
This statement came in response to a report released Tuesday morning
, claiming that the prime minister suffered from cerebral amyloid angiopathy - a vascular brain disorder that can be worsened by the blood thinners he was given following his first hospitalization three weeks ago.
He added however, that Hadassah would only comment on public criticism against it once doctors complete the prime minister's treatment, or until he is out of danger.
Earlier on Tuesday, in an attempt to stimulate Sharon's senses, well-wishers brought Sharon's favorite foods into his hospital bedroom at Hadassah Ein Kerem, including an order of shwarma.
Strains of Mozart were playing near Sharon's bedside on Tuesday morning. The prime minister, an amateur violinist, is a known fan of classical music.
Prof. Rafi Carasso, head of the neurology department at Hillel Jaffe Medical Center in Hadera, commented that journalists will have to be patient and not press Hadassah doctors for details they cannot provide.
It can take weeks for brain edema to go down and days to know about his brain functioning, said Carasso. The new evidence "adds another 1% of optimism." Medicine is not an exact science, and neurological improvement is slow, he said.
"At least a week will have to pass after all anesthesia has been withdrawn" before his functioning will be more clear. Carasso added that the Hadassah teams were "among the best, if not the best, in Israel, and that Umansky and his staff saved his life three times" when his brain hemorrhaged.