It should have been a joyous birthday for Ariel Sharon, an imminent victory in the March elections awaiting him and his sons, grandchildren and many friends by his side. But Sharon, who turns 78 today, remains hospitalized in critical condition at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. Friends and family have no plans to celebrate – only to continue praying for an improvement in his condition.
Contrary to the crowded lot outside the hospital, full of journalists and well-wishers, that was seen in early January immediately after Sharon’s stroke, on Sunday the lot was empty and quiet.
Hospital visitors. 'It's sad no one talks about Sharon' (Photo: Dudi Vaknin)
Family and friends had no plans to mark Sharon's birthday Sunday. “It was clear that we weren’t going to celebrate,” a close colleague of Sharon said. “Anyway, this has never been a family to make a big deal out of birthdays.” Sharon’s son Omri, who visited the hospital Sunday, also refused to make special note of the date.
"This is a sad day for us. We're not planning on doing anything special, because this is not a day to celebrate," said one of Sharon’s colleagues ahead of the prime minister’s 78th birthday.
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert blessed Sharon on his 78th birthday, saying, “We are all praying for his wellbeing and wish him a full recovery.”
Falling from public interest
Etti Dosbi and Shlomit Mochacho, two patients at the hospital said they were saddened by the fact that people were no longer interested in Sharon, they said. The two expressed hope that “he would just get better already.”
Rachel Turkiya agreed that Sharon’s condition seems to have fallen from the public’s interest lately.
“It’s unfortunate that he isn’t talked about, that people don’t know what his condition is or where he is, and aren’t particularly interested in him. I hope he just gets better and comes back to us,” Turkiya said.
"We have no intention of marking the day, because our mood is heavy. It's true that life goes on, but for us the prime minister, who is a kind of father, is still fighting for his life in hospital. This is not a time for celebrations. It's fair to assume that visitors will bring something, but we won't get together to mark his 78th birthday," said an associate of Sharon.
Since the prime minister slipped into a coma one-and-a-half months ago, his family has been making tireless effort to awake him by bringing his favorite foods to his bedside and playing recording of his grandchildren. In the past two weeks, however, efforts have decreased.
According to his associates, the main effort now is to stabilize his condition after the last emergency operation Sharon underwent, in which part of his intestine was removed.
A new evaluation could take place in coming days in order to decide whether to return Sharon to the neurological department. It is at that point that family members are expected to renew attempts to wake Sharon.
There are no plans to move Sharon to any other hospital according to his associates.
Ronny Sofer contributed to the report