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Ariel Sharon Begins Breathing on His Own


Doctors reviving Ariel Sharon from his medically induced coma say the Israeli prime minister is breathing on his own.

Ariel Sharon's doctors are reducing the dosages of anesthetics Mr. Sharon is receiving as they revive him from his medically induced coma. Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the director of Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital says Mr. Sharon is responding. "At the first state, Mr. Sharon has started to breathe on his own, spontaneously," said the doctor. "Of course, he is still connected to the ventilator, but this is the first sign of some sort of activity on his brain."

Doctors will attempt to test Mr. Sharon's reflexes and cognitive abilities in an attempt to determine the extent of brain damage he may have as a result of the massive stroke and cerebral hemorrhage he suffered last week.

Their assessment of Mr. Sharon's cognitive state will be sent to Israel's attorney general, who will decide whether or not to declare Mr. Sharon permanently incapacitated. Mr. Sharon's deputy, Ehud Olmert, has been declared acting prime minister for 100 days, so no quick decision is expected from the attorney general about a declaration regarding Mr. Sharon's state.

If Israel declares Ariel Sharon permanently incapacitated, then Israel's cabinet would have to elect a new prime minister from among the five cabinet members who belong to the Kadima Party that Ariel Sharon founded last November.

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