Doctors hope to gradually awaken PM as they lower sedation

Doctors at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem plan to gradually bring Ariel Sharon out of his medically induced coma on Monday, hoping that the prime minister will gradually awaken and show signs of response. “There is no change in the prime minister’s condition, he remains critical but stable,” said hospital spokeswoman Yael Bossem-Levy. She said senior physicians would confer Monday morning, and that “in the event there is no change in the situation, the process of reducing his sedation will begin.” The process of weaning Sharon from the anesthetics was expected to take six to eight hours, and experts said doctors should have a good idea of the extent of the damage by the end of the day. The decision to try to awaken Sharon was taken after a brain scan Sunday indicated that that swelling of the brain had gone down, intra-cranial and blood pressure were within normal range, and that cerebral fluid was draining well. Neurosurgeons said early Monday that the extent of Sharon’s responses could vary widely, from slight movements of the fingers or opening of the eyes, to a much fuller awakening. They have also cautioned that there is no guarantee that Sharon will awaken from the anesthesia. “The patient does not always awaken when we would like,” said Dr. Menashe Zaaroor, head of the neurosurgery department of Rambam hospital in Haifa. “At times, one stops the [sedation], and the patient wakes immediately, and in other cases it may take him a month to awaken.” Hadassah director Shlomo Mor-Yosef cautioned Sunday that the process of lifting Sharon’s sedation “depends of course on whether the prime minister makes it until tomorrow morning without any significant incidents.” Mor-Yosef told reporters outside the hospital Sunday that the latest scan of Sharon’s brain, showed improvement in a number of parameters. Haaretz Writers: Perspectives on Sharon Sharon’s surgeon Dr. Jose Cohen said Saturday evening that the prime minister’s chances for survival are “very high.” He described Sharon as “very strong,” but said that it was very difficult to predict the extent of the damage to his brain. “I’ve seen so many of these cases,” added Cohen. “There are patients in this state that do not survive and there are those who return to work. The range of possibilities is so wide that it is too hard to predict.” “I am pretty optimistic about it. We are praying there won’t be complications, like catching an infection,” Cohen was quoted as saying. But he stressed that Sharon would not be unscathed: “To say that after a severe impact like this one there would not be cognitive problems is just not acknowledging reality.” The improvement doctors noticed on the prime minister’s CT scan was thanks to a certain diminution of the edema that causes the intra-cranial pressure, Mor-Yosef said. Edema is an observable swelling from fluid accumulation in certain body tissues. When waking Sharon out of his coma, doctors will be “looking for some sort of response,” Mor-Yosef said Saturday. “If there is no response, that would be bad news.” “We as human beings are optimistic. But I cannot say that the prime minister has come out of danger,” the hospital director added. “There are very slight signs of improvement. But the condition is still critical,” he said.