Thursday, January 02, 2014

Former PM Ariel Sharon's condition 'life-threatening'

The legendary leader, who has been comatose since his debilitating stroke eight years ago, suffers kidney failure • Further deterioration could result in death in matter of days • Hospital chief: "Situation has taken a significant turn for the worse."

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Photo credit: AP
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's condition significantly worsened on Wednesday as a result of kidney failure, some eight years after a major stroke placed him in a coma.
This new condition could lead to multiple organ failure, a life-threatening situation, the Sheba Medical Center said in a statement on Wednesday. Doctors fear that Sharon's comatose state and advanced age (85) could complicate matters even further.
"Sharon is in critical condition," Sheba Director-General Professor Zeev Rotstein said in a statement on Thursday. He said that the "critical malfunction" of Sharon's organs, coupled with his overall state, created a "life-threatening" condition. 

 "The doctors and his family, primarily his sons, believe his situation has taken a significant turn for the worse," he said.
Sharon's two sons, Gilad and Omri, are in the hospital by their father's side.
Sharon has been in what is called a "minimally conscious state" for most of the past eight years. He has been undergoing regular dialysis recently.
"A kidney that does not function properly could lead to death in a matter of days," said Professor Uzi Gafter, head of the Institute of Nephrology and Hypertension at Rabin Medical Center.
"The renal system handles some 150 to 200 liters of blood each day, filtering out waste associated with the body's metabolic processes. Kidney failure could lead to fluid retention in the lungs, which could cause pulmonary edema [a swelling of lung tissue] and shortness of breath. [The kidney failure] may also lead to increased acidity in the blood, which in turn could cause cardiac arrhythmia."
Sharon may have to undergo extensive dialysis treatment to compensate for the compromised kidney activity. "Recovering from this condition, while possible, will depend on the damage to other organs," Gafter said.
Several years ago, doctors had Sharon transferred to his estate in southern Israel in the hope that the farm setting would accelerate his recovery. That attempt, however, was unsuccessful, and he was readmitted to Sheba Medical Center.
In January 2013, a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan indicated significant brain activity when Sharon was shown pictures of his family members. Their voices triggered a similar response. According to the American and Israeli experts who carried out the procedure, Sharon may be capable of some sensory perception. Several months later, in September, he underwent surgery in his stomach to treat an inflammation caused by his feeding tube.
Sharon entered politics in the 1970s after a distinguished military career in the Israel Defense Forces. He was elected prime minister in 2001 as the head of the Likud party. He was re-elected in 2003. In November 2005, Sharon resigned from Likud and formed the Kadima party. After Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke in January 2006, Ehud Olmert replaced him as prime minister.

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