Former President Shimon Peres in Induced Coma After Suffering Major Stroke

Shimon Peres, Israel's elder statesman, hospitalized in very serious condition at Tel Hashomer hospital with massive brain hemorrhage. His son: 'Family will have make decisions later on.'

Then-President Shimon Peres gives an interview to the Associated Press at the President's residence in Jerusalem June 16, 2013.
Sebastian Scheiner, AP

Former President Shimon Peres, 93, was admitted on Tuesday to Tel Hashomer hospital after suffering a massive stroke. He was said to be in very serious condition.

The head of the hospital said Peres suffered a stroke with significant bleeding. Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, Dr. Itzik Kreiss said Peres underwent several tests and is now in an induced coma and on a respirator. 

Close to midnight, it was reported that the hemorrhage was believed to have stopped and that Peres' condition stabilized. According to the head of the hospital's stroke unit, Prof. David Orion, it was the right hemisphere of the brain that was damaged. "The damage isn't the main issue currently. We're working on getting him to a state in which his life won't be in jeopardy," Orion told Haaretz.

Talking to reporters outside the hospital, Peres' son, Chemi, said his father's condition "wasn't simple." He thanked the hospital staff and said the family "will have make decisions later on." He added that the family was gathering at the hospital.

People in Peres' office initially said that he suffered a light stroke, but it soon turned out that his condition was more severe. Peres, who was admitted in the hospital's intensive care unit, is being guarded by police.

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Peres' son, Chemi (left), and Tel Hashomer head Dr. Itzik Kreiss, during a press briefing outside the hospital, September 14, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

A stroke is a medical condition in which there is an interruption of blood flow to a certain part of the brain. The causes can be a hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, which can block blood vessels, a clot, or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain which can cause intracranial bleeding.

Medical sources believe that it was a Myocardial infarction that caused an embolism, which in turn created a blood clot in Peres' brain, causing a hemorrhage.

Professor Yisrael Steiner, chairman of neurology at Beilinson Hospital, said "the window for treating such a case is narrow and immediate care is critical. When the patient is 93 the difficulty is greater. The treatment window is narrower and the ability to heal tissue and recover brain function is much more difficult. The brain is a sensitive and central organ and the moment there is an event, it puts all body systems at risk."

'Pray together'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone with the hospital director, who updated him on Peres's condition. Netanyahu relayed his and the people's wishes for a speedy recovery.

President Reuven Rivlin said: "I am following with concern the updates from the hospital, and pray together with the entire people for my friend Shimon's recovery."

Isaac Herzog, chairman of the opposition Labor Party Peres had once headed, posted on Twitter: "We wish you, our dear former president, Shimon Peres, a speedy recovery and swift return to voicing your clear words of wisdom." 

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he prays for Peres and hopes "that he will again prove that he can overcome difficult conditions."

Chief Rabbi David Lau called on the public to pray for Peres. "Peres has many rights for his long service for the people of Israel and for strengthening Israel's security," he said.

Peres had been hospitalized in January with arrhythmia shortly after suffering a light heart attack, and underwent catheterization.

Peres, Israel's elder statesman, has held virtually every senior political post in Israel over a seven-decade career. He was an architect of a 1993 interim peace deal with the Palestinians known as the Oslo Accords, for which he won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.

As a defense official in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Peres was also a founder of Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona.