(VIDEO) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has started breathing independently after doctors reduced the inflow of anesthetic drugs in an attempt to waken the PM from deep sedation, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital director Professor Shlomo Mor Yosef said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Mor Yosef added that while Sharon was able to breathe on his own, he is still connected to a respirator.
"We started the awakening process this morning by reducing the anesthetic drugs given to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It is a gradual process," he said.
"The moment we reduced the medication during the first stage, the prime minister started breathing independently. Even though he is still connected to a respirator, he is able to breathe on his own," he added. "The process may take hours or several days. The prime minister is still in serious condition."
Mor Yosef updates reporters Monday (Courtesy of Channel 2)
The hospital director added that this was the first stage in the PM's improvement.
"We saw it fit to update you because we know that it interests each and every one of you in Israel. This is the first change, we will not update you on every change," he said, adding that he planned to inform the press once again in several hours.
Following a medical assessment earlier, Sharon's doctors conducted a series of tests to determine whether it would be possible to embark on the slow, sensitive process of rousing the prime minister from the induced coma.
Only once they attempt to wake the prime minister, the doctors will be able to determine the extent of damage sustained to Sharon's brain.
Expert: Latest report encouraging
A senior neurosurgeon at Tel Hashomer's Sheba Hospital told Ynet the latest report on Sharon is encouraging, but does not indicate movement or cognitive functioning.
Well wishers visit the hospital (Photo: AFP)
"Independent breathing is positive, but it does not indicate general functioning of the brain. Even in extensive brain damage, when a patient is defined as a 'vegetable', it is possible to breathe independently," he said.
Meanwhile, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital
officials reported Monday morning there had been no change in Sharon's condition during the night, defined as serious but stable.
In order to rouse Sharon, the medical staff will stop the inflow of anesthetic drugs into the prime minister's body. Sharon is expected to wake up within about 10 minutes, but experts say the seemingly short timeframe can be very difficult for those around the patient, as fears continue to build up.
Reports 'too optimistic'
Senior sources at Hadassah who are familiar with the situation told Ynet Sunday evening that the reports on Sharon's condition were "too optimistic."
An optimistic interview with one of Sharon's surgeons, Dr. Jose Cohen, described the prime minister's condition "in a manner that can lead to
interpretations that the PM's condition is
better than what it is in reality," one source said.
Another senior source at the hospital addressed the prime minister's prospects for recovery and said: "The improvement detected is an x-ray improvement, and until we find the clinical equivalent it's too early to express optimism."
"The improvement (Hadassah Director) Professor Mor Yosef spoke about referred to the image received by the CT scan and shows the brain's structure, but not its functioning," the source said, adding that "only once the effects of sedation are gone will we be able to perform neurological tests, and only they can attest to the extent of damage."
International delegation visits hospital
A delegation of over 60 lords, senators, congressmen and Jewish parliament members from 28 states through out the world has arrived at Hadassah Hospital Monday morning in order to express support for Prime Minister Sharon's family, wish the PM
a full recovery and show sympathy for the people of Israel at this difficult time.
The delegation is expected to hold a prayer service near the hospital during the day.
World Jewish Congress Chairman, Rabbi Dr. Israel Singer, who came with the group, told Ynet that several weeks ago he scheduled an appointment with the prime minister for Monday, and that he was here to keep it.
The emissaries also arrived to wish the prime minister full recovery in the place closest to him, Singer explained, adding it is the Jewish way to come and visit not only when one wants to be heard, but also when it is necessary.
The WJC Director in Israel Bobby Brown said the message the delegation wished to convey was one of hope and prayer. In light of recent developments,
everybody agreed to come here, Brown said, stating he believed this was the right place for them to be today.
Meital Yasur Beit-Or contributed to the report