Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's Health Deteriorates to 'Very Serious and Unstable' Condition

Shas spiritual leader put back on respirator three days after regaining full consciousness.

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
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Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's health was deteriorating rapidly on Monday morning, less than a day after doctors chose to anaesthetize him and put him back on a respirator following three days of full consciousness.

Doctors at the Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem described his condition as very serious and unstable.

"His condition is very bad," Prof. Dan Gilon, the cardiologist treating Ovadia, said on Monday. "What yesterday we described as serious, this morning we describe as very serious, and what yesterday was stable can today be described as unstable. This is a very obvious deterioration, there is no question that this is not a light [problem]. This is the most serious condition he has been in since hospitalized two-and-a-half week ago."

President Shimon Peres cut short a meeting with his Czech counterpart on Monday after just minutes to rush to the hospital to visit Yosef, after hearing of the rabbi's critical condition. The president stood by the rabbi's bedside and held his hand, then took part in a prayer session before leaving the hospital.

Yosef was initially taken off of the respirator on Thursday after regaining full consciousness, but physicians had made clear there was a possibility of renewing artificial respiration.

"As we said in the beginning when we removed the breathing tubes, it will take several days to assess whether the rabbi has the strength and is in a condition to breathe without a respirator," Gilon said on Sunday afternoon. "Over the last two days there have been ups and downs regarding the possibility of renewing artificial respiration."

Gilon told reporters at an afternoon press brieging that the 93-year-old rabbi was breathing autonomously, even saying that he was "relaxed." But the rabbi's son Rabbi David Yosef, said a few hours later doctors once again anesthetized his father and put him on a respirator.

Gilon said that a new infection had been discovered in the nonagenarian's blood. "Throughout his hospitalization, the rabbi was found to be somewhat susceptible to infection," he said. "Regarding the question of whether there is a substantial deterioration concerning the infection, the answer is no. There is currently one infection."

Antibiotic treatment was selected on Saturday and the rabbi remains in a stable condition, the doctor said, explaining that Sunday's developments were within the range of expectations. However, he also stressed that the rabbi's recovery is not certain.

"Is the rabbi's life in danger? Yes, the rabbi with his illnesses and his age is in mortal danger," Gilon said, adding, "We get the impression that he does not face any immediate danger. However, we should always remember that he is gravely ill and that his life is danger."

Yosef was hospitalized just over two weeks ago with a host of medical problems, including kidney failure, heart problems, blood pressure problems and infections.

Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef.Credit: Daniel Bar-On
President Shimon Peres comes to Hadassah Hospital.Credit: Emil Salman

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