Former PM Ariel Sharon Remains in Critical Condition, Hospital Says

Sharon is suffering multiple organ failure, Prof. Zeev Rotstein says.

Ariel Sharon remains in critical condition, the director general of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, said Thursday morning, after the former prime minister's medical condition had significantly deteriorated.

"He has not undergone dialysis," Prof. Zeev Rotstein said, "He is still getting the same medical treatments he has been getting for years."

Sharon has been suffering in recent days from renal failure, sources said Wednesday, but was not expected to undergo dialysis due to the dangers the procedure could present given his fragile physical state.

"If there was a problem in just one organ, it would be a different story, but [Sharon] is suffering problems in a number of organs," Rotstein said.

Rotstein said Sharon's physical condition has not deteriorated further since Wednesday.

"Arik is a very strong man; he has come out of difficult situations during the period that he has been in our hospital. However, both the doctors who are treating him, as well as family members who are with him… all feel that there has been a change for the worse. Everyone feels that this deterioration is very serious. We have no way of knowing how much time he has left," Rotstein added.

“The more systems fail, the worse his chances of remaining alive are. It’s a process that cannot be stopped,” explains prof. Uzi Gafter, head of the Nephrology and Hypertension department at Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva.

According to information received from the Sheba Medical Center, Sharon is not receiving dialysis treatment, but is on antibiotics to combat infection. According to professor Gafter, it is possible that Sharon’s recent turn for the worse is a result of sepsis - a widespread inflammation throughout the body including tissue and blood cells – a common condition in intensive care units.

“Bacteria infect the blood and secrete toxins. At first blood vessels may expand, later they constrict, limiting the supply of blood to the tissues. This leads to a buildup of lactic acid, which at a certain point leads to system failure after system failure,” explains Gafter. “It can lead to lowered blood pressure, and lead to it that the body's systems do not receive enough oxygen, which in turn causes damage to internal organs. It’s a situation that gets progressively worse. In principle, at first the brain still receives a good blood supply, but other systems such as the liver and the supply of blood to the feet is harmed.”

The assumption is that Sharon cannot receive dialysis treatment due to his low blood pressure. Regardless, if he could go on dialysis, which would relieve his kidneys from some of their duties, it would be impossible to stall the failure of many other systems in his body.

Sharon, 85, is hospitalized in Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv, and has been comatose since January 4, 2006 when he suffered a brain hemorrhage.

A source with knowledge of Sharon's condition said Wednesday that if his health continues to deteriorate, it would be "a matter of days" until he passes away. The source said that Sharon's family is currently by his bed and holding consultations with medical staff.

Sharon has been comatose in the hospital for the past eight years. He has been getting medical care, and receiving fluids through a feeding tube.

Last September, Sharon underwent abdominal surgery to correct a problem in his intravenous feeding system. The operation, which lasted an hour, was planned several months prior.

In January, neurological scans demonstrated significant brain activity in Sharon's brain. During the two-hour fMRI scan conducted, researchers tested Sharon's response to various stimuli: family pictures, a recording of his son's voice, and human touch.

They said they were surprised to discover significant activity in relevant parts of his brain in response to all tests.