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Ariel Sharon Remains Under Light Sedation


Doctors treating Ariel Sharon say he remains under light sedation at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital. Mr. Sharon's doctors say he continues to show slight improvement.

Ariel Sharon's doctors said earlier they planned to stop administering all anesthetics to him. But, in a brief statement issued late in the day, hospital officials said Israel's prime minister would remain under what they described as light sedation.

Doctors began reducing Mr. Sharon's anesthesia several days ago to bring him out of his medically induced coma in order to determine the extent of his brain damage. Mr. Sharon's anesthesiologist, Dr. Yoram Weiss, said it would take time to assess his condition.

"Well it is too early to tell about his ultimate condition. So we will have to see still," he said.

Mr. Sharon's doctors say he is breathing on his own, and that most of the damage from the stroke he suffered seems to be in the right hemisphere of his brain, which controls the left side of his body. Hadassah Hospital director, Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, says Mr. Sharon's overall condition has not changed much over the past few days.

"There is slight improvement in the neurological functions of the prime minister's brain, but his condition is still severe, critical and stable," explained Dr. Mor-Yosef.

Dr. Mor-Yosef rejected accusations published in several Israeli newspapers that blood thinners the prime minister received following his first much milder stroke on December 18 caused last week's much more severe hemorrhage.

As Mr. Sharon lay sedated in his Jerusalem hospital bed, many of his political colleagues have resumed their political maneuvering ahead of what is expected to be a wide-open political campaign leading to Israeli elections on March 28.

Some of Mr. Sharon's colleagues in his newly formed Kadima Party on Wednesday suggested putting his name at the top of the candidate list for the elections, ahead of acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is expected to lead the party.

In other news, a new poll shows Mr. Sharon's Kadima Party as the party to beat in the elections. The poll projects Kadima, with Ehud Olmert as a candidate for prime minister, winning more than 40 seats in the 120 seat Knesset - enough to form a coalition government.