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Sharon in critical but stable condition
Updated: 2006-02-13 07:35

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been comatose since suffering a massive stroke more than five weeks ago, was in critical but stable condition Sunday following emergency abdominal surgery, the hospital treating him said.

Though the surgery was successful, Sharon's doctors said hope was fading for the premier to wake from his coma. Since the stroke, Sharon has been hooked up to a breathing tube. A feeding tube was inserted in his stomach on Feb. 1.

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gestures as he convenes the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday Feb. 12, 2006. [AP]
Sharon, 77, was rushed into surgery Saturday morning after an abdominal scan revealed dead tissue in his digestive system.

Doctors removed 20 inches, or one-third, of his large intestine during the four-hour surgery, the seventh Sharon has undergone since suffering the debilitating stroke Jan. 4. The tissue death, or necrosis, was either caused by infection or a drop in the blood supply to the intestines, something common in comatose patients, Sharon's doctors said.

"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's condition stabilized after surgery, but it is still described this morning as critical and stable," Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital said in a statement. "The prime minister is in the general intensive care unit."

Sharon's political heir, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Sunday he was relieved by the success of the surgery and expressed his support for Sharon's sons, Omri and Gilad.

"We are encouraged by the reports from Hadassah Hospital regarding the health situation of the prime minister following the operation yesterday," Olmert said before the government's weekly Cabinet meeting. "The whole government is sending a warm hug to Omri and Gilad, who are standing by their father day and night."

Sharon's sons have acquired guardianship over their father since his stroke. Under Israeli law, any decision to perform emergency surgery or to discontinue medical treatment would require their consent, said Jonathan Davies, a leading Israeli medical law expert.
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