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Sharon in critical condition after surgery
Updated: 2006-02-12 14:21

JERUSALEM - Doctors removed nearly 2 feet of Ariel Sharon's large intestines Saturday during emergency surgery, his seventh operation since suffering a debilitating stroke last month.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon looks at his watch as he attends a session of the Knesset in Jerusalem in this July 12, 2004 file photo. Sharon, incapacitated by a January 4 stroke, underwent emergency surgery on February 11, 2006 for digestive complications, Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital said. [Reuters]
Surgeons managed to stabilize the comatose Israeli prime minister after initially fearing for his life, but the latest complication makes it even more unlikely he will recover. The hospital said Sunday he remained in critical but stable condition, as he has throughout the past five weeks.

Israelis closely followed their 77-year-old leader's latest ordeal, with TV stations repeatedly breaking into regular programming for updates, but the country already has come to terms with his departure from politics.

Sharon's political heir, Ehud Olmert, quickly took the reins as acting prime minister after Sharon's Jan. 4 stroke and appears poised to lead Sharon's centrist Kadima Party to victory in March 28 elections.

Sharon was rushed to surgery Saturday morning after doctors, who had noticed abdominal swelling, conducted a CT scan and a laparoscopy, or insertion of a small camera through the abdominal wall.

Surgeons detected necrotic — or dead — tissue in the bowels and removed 20 inches of his large intestine, Hadassah Hospital director Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef said.

The necrosis was caused either by infection or a drop in the blood supply to the intestines, something common in comatose patients, the hospital director said. Mor-Yosef said doctors did not find blocked blood vessels.

Mor-Yosef said Saturday's surgery was relatively simple, and that Sharon's main medical problem continues to be the coma. Asked whether Sharon could come out of the coma, Mor-Yosef said: "All possibilities remain open, but with each passing day, the chances are lower."
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