Doctors stop bleeding in Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's brain after a major stroke, but his condition is "severe". Israel's Ariel Sharon has undergone seven hours of surgery following a major stroke, and is now in a severe but stable condition, doctors say. Doctors managed to stop bleeding in the prime minister's brain, the director of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem said. "He is stable. All his signs are within normal limits but his condition is severe," Shlomo Mor-Yosef said. A Cabinet meeting began as the statement was made, with Deputy PM Ehud Olmert assuming Mr Sharon's powers.
Yisrael Maimon, the Israeli cabinet Secretary, said Sharon's authorities have been transferred to his vice-premier, Ehud Olmert. "Given that the prime minister requires treatment, I have spoken to the attorney general (Menachem Mazuz) and deputy Prime Minister Olmert and it has been decided that Mr Olmert will have powers transferred to him." Channel 2 TV had earlier reported Sharon was suffering from paralysis in his lower body.
Analysts on Israeli TV stations said his life could be in danger. Channel 2 TV said he was taken into the hospital on a stretcher. Sharon had been scheduled to undergo a heart procedure to repair a small hole on Thursday at the hospital.
He was taken by ambulance, a drive of more than an hour from his ranch in the Negev Desert in Israel's south, instead of by helicopter. Sharon was at his ranch when he suddenly "felt ill", a close aide said on condition of anonymity.
On 18 December, Sharon was taken to Hadassah Hospital from his office after suffering a mild stroke. Doctors said he would not suffer long-term effects from the stroke, but they discovered a birth defect in his heart that apparently contributed to the stroke.
Since the stroke, Sharon has been receiving blood thinners to try to prevent a recurrence of the clotting that caused the stroke. Sharon, who will be 78 next month, has cut down on his foreign travels in recent years but still maintains a punishing workload.
He has been under huge stress in recent weeks, not least with the prospect of his son Omri facing prison after pleading guilty to charges of providing false testimony and falsifying documents following an investigation into allegations of illegal financing of one of his father's leadership campaigns.
News also emerged on Tuesday night that Israeli police are to examine computer data which they believe will show Sharon's family received an alleged three million dollar bribe from Austrian financier Martin Schlaff.
Bush Prayers for Sharon
As news of Sharon's stroke spread, world leaders as well as those in Israel wished him speedy recovery. George Bush, the US president, said he was praying for the prime minister's recovery. "Laura (Bush) and I share the concerns of the Israeli people about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's health, and we are praying for his recovery. Prime Minister Sharon is a man of courage and peace. On behalf of all Americans, we send our best wishes and hopes to the prime minister and his family," Bush said.
Political leaders in Israel also united in prayers for Sharon. Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli prime minister and a rival of Sharon, was among the first to offer his wishes for a full recovery. "Like the entire people of Israel, I also pray for the well being of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon," Netanyahu said in a statement. His wishes were echoed by Moshe Katsav, the Israeli president, who said that "along with all the Israeli people I pray for the well being of the prime minister and wish him a speedy recovery."
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