PM to undergo catheterization on Thurs.

A-G to decide if PM's duties would be transfered to Olmert during procedure.

sharon hospital 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sharon hospital 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon is consulting with Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to determine whether the country's stewardship needs to be passed from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to his deputy Ehud Olmert when Sharon undergoes a heart procedure on Thursday. The Prime Minister's office issued a terse statement Sunday saying that the 77-year-old Sharon would undergo heart catheterization at Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on Thursday. According to the statement, he would be hospitalized for approximately 24 hours. The routine procedure -- expected to last an hour - is meant to close a small hole in Sharon's heart that likely caused his mild stroke last month. The procedure will, however, necessitate the use of partial sedation. An official in the Prime Minister's office said that the decision whether Sharon's duties should be temporarily transferred to Olmert depended on the length of the procedure, and how long it would take for Sharon to come out of the anesthesia. At a press conference last week, Sharon's doctors - who described the abnormality in Sharon's heart that affects about 15 percent of the population - said the prime minister would undergo this procedure in two weeks. Sharon's office had no explanation as to why the procedure was being done so soon, but there was speculation that the reason had more to do with politics than medicine, and that Sharon's campaign wanted to get the procedure over with as quickly as possible to keep his health from lingering as a major campaign issue. During the procedure a clamshell-shaped clamp will be inserted on two sides of a small hole in the Prime Minister's heart. The procedure is expected to prevent the formation of more blood clots and greatly reduce risk of a recurrent stroke.