Accessibility links

Breaking News

Coma-Stricken Ariel Sharon Moved to Long-term Medical Facility

Israel's critically ill former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been hospitalized in Jerusalem since early this year, has been moved to a different facility. The prognosis for recovery is poor.

Nearly five months after suffering a massive stroke, Ariel Sharon was moved from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term care facility near Tel Aviv. The 78-year-old Sharon remains in a coma.

Mr. Sharon was driven by ambulance to Sheba Medical Center in a heavily-guarded motorcade. Dr. Ze'ev Rotstein, the head of Sheba, said there are two main goals.

"The first goal is to wean Mr. Sharon from a respirator," he said. "And, the second goal is to wake him up from the coma."

Rotstein told a news conference that the prognosis is not encouraging.

"We are expecting a lot of complications, because that is common with this kind of long-term treatment," he said.

Mr. Sharon suffered the stroke after two landmark events. First, he pulled Israel out of Gaza in August, and dismantled all 21 Jewish settlements there, and then he bolted his hawkish Likud party and formed the centrist Kadima party.

Today, Kadima is the ruling party, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has vowed to pick up where Mr. Sharon left off. He plans to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank unilaterally, and draw Israel's borders by 2010.

While Mr. Sharon is the visionary of that plan, medical experts believe he will not see his vision fulfilled. One expert told Israel Radio that such a long coma is a sign of irreversible brain damage. He described the talk about rehabilitating Mr. Sharon as "empty words", and said the chances that he will wake up are nil.