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Comatose Ariel Sharon shows signs of consciousness
Published Monday 28/01/2013 (updated) 29/01/2013 17:13
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Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since
January 2006. (MaanImages/File)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Seven years after suffering a massive stroke comatose ex- Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has surprised his doctors by displaying "a certain degree of consciousness," an expert who examined him using an MRI scan said on Sunday.

The results of tests conducted by a joint Israeli-American team did not mean the former general and right-wing politician turned peacemaker was about to wake up from the coma he has been in since a January 2006 stroke.

But doctors saw the responses displayed by Sharon, 84, in a two-hour exam on Thursday as "encouraging" that there may some day be a cure for some comas, Alon Friedman, a neurological director at Israel's Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheba, said.

Experts at Soroka, joined by a leading US neurologist, Martin Monti, of the University of California Los Angeles, scanned Sharon's brain to test its function Friedman told Reuters in an interview by telephone.

"The chances of him getting out of bed are very, very slim," Friedman said.

But the machine detected some brain activity, when Sharon was shown photographs of his family and also when asked to imagine his home, he said.

These findings suggest that despite Sharon's comatose state "he might be listening, and some important information goes into his brain and is being processed," Friedman said.

Sharon "might be awake, and there is a chance that he is conscious," though due to paralysis suffered as a result of his stroke he cannot respond physically, he added.

"To some extent the patient is what we call 'locked in', he understands and responds with his brain but cannot activate any muscles."

Friedman said Sharon's eyes were open for at least part of the time when he responded to the sight of family photographs.

More surprising were signs the machine showed that Sharon had processed a request to imagine various scenes such as his home, Friedman said, adding that Sharon's brain had also shown signs of responding to his son, Gilad's voice.

"The results of the tests are not clear but encouraging, and they surprised us," Friedman said, adding he saw the results as contributing to data about potential stimuli scientists hope may someday help them awaken certain patients from a coma.

"This is futuristic, and not the case at the moment," he said.

Sharon's stroke felled him at a critical juncture in Israeli politics.

Once a hard-line defense chief, Sharon made a dramatic political about-face with a 2005 Gaza pullout. His illness came just weeks after he made a dramatic exit from the right-wing Likud party to found a centrist faction in the hope of advancing peace moves with the Palestinians.
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1 ) mohamed / somalia
28/01/2013 11:52
ain't dead yet?

2 ) Mel / USA
28/01/2013 20:39
Whisper the words "Sabar" and "Shatila" in his ears?
That should wake him up!
Then,we can SUBPOENA,INDICT,and put him on trial in ICC/ICJ for WAR CRIMES,crimes against the peace,mass murder & human rights abuses.
Quick,before he runs for PM again!?!?
It's a disgrace that his level of human compassion,in active life,was never as HIGH as the low "level of consciousness" he has whilst in a coma.
If it had, we'd feel more compassion for him now!



3 ) Rami / Palestine
29/01/2013 09:09
I'm glad that he's comatose and suffering. He deserves a very slow painful death. Dying quickly is too merciful of an ending to this racist genocidal butcher.

4 ) carlos / usa
29/01/2013 18:56
I second Rami/Palestine comment.

5 ) Carlos / usa
29/01/2013 18:58
There is a song sung by Billy Joel, the main lyric says "only the good die young".
The corollary must be the bad "linger and rot"

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
30/01/2013 01:54
Goodie. He can stand trial.

7 ) ian / australia
30/01/2013 09:24
It's like a horror film. It's alive! It's alive!! I had a strange knee-jerk reaction of "Oh, no!" as though he could come to life and pick up where he left off. Weird, but an indication of the monster he was. If Sharon is conscious but unable to move...well, you wouldn't wish that on anyone, but it WOULD give him lots of time to think about the endless misery and suffering he caused.

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
31/01/2013 00:29
To ian #7 '...but it WOULD give him lots of time to think about the endless misery and suffering he caused." You're assuming that would bother him.

9 ) SherrI Munnerlyn / US
31/01/2013 00:31
An illustration of Justice only God could be the orhestrator of !

10 ) ian / australia
01/02/2013 10:19
#8 "You're assuming that would bother him." Yes, it might just be a stroll down memory lane for Arik, recalling the good times, which, if he's in a coma, but conscious, is about as macabre a mental image as you can get.
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