Son sees Sharon blink his eyes

Ariel Sharon blinked his eyes on Monday as a tape of his grandson was being played, but medics treating Israel’s coma-stricken premier said it is too early to assess the significance of the development.

A spokesperson for the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, where Sharon has been treated since he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage on January 4, said members of his family spotted the 77-year-old blinking.

“He blinked—both eyes—but the medical significance of this is not clear,” Yael Bossam-Levy said. “Only the family saw it, no doctors were in the room.”

Medical sources earlier said on condition of anonymity that Sharon had appeared to shed a tear while listening to a tape of his grandson. Sharon’s elder son, Gilad, was understood to be in the room at the time.

A report on Y-net, the website of Israel’s top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper, said doctors rushed to Sharon’s room after being alerted of the movement but that the prime minister’s eyes were shut by the time they arrived.

It was the first time Sharon had shown any movement in any part of his eyes since he was first admitted to hospital and placed in an artificial coma.

“He was listening to a tape of his grandson and you could see tears in his eyes for a matter of seconds before he closed them again,” one doctor at the hospital said on condition of anonymity.

On Sunday, doctors performed a successful tracheotomy on Sharon in order to assist his breathing, before returning him to the hospital’s neurosurgical unit.

Medical sources have been increasingly pessimistic about Sharon’s chances of making a recovery the longer that he remains in a coma.

Doctors were initially buoyed by Sharon’s response to stimulus tests, when he moved all four limbs.

But their assessments became much more downbeat over the weekend as Sharon continued to remain comatose despite the fact that doctors had ceased administering any sedatives.

Felix Umansky, Sharon’s chief neurosurgeon, said on Sunday that patience was needed and the tracheotomy was not a sign that his condition was worsening.

“There is no reason to be pessimistic.
We are not giving Ariel Sharon enough time to recover, we must be patient. It is a long process,” he said.

With Sharon still incapacitated, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was officially named interim chairperson of his Kadima party on Monday.

“Olmert has been officially appointed as the interim leader of Kadima until Prime Minister Sharon’s health allows otherwise,” party spokesperson Maya Jacobs said.

Olmert, who took over as acting premier from Sharon after he was admitted to hospital on January 4, is due on Wednesday to bring the appointments of four new ministers for governmental approval.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz declared on Sunday that Olmert can continue as Israel’s acting premier until the March 28 general election if Sharon remains incapacitated.—AFP

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