Slight Improvement in Condition of Former Israeli President Shimon Peres

Doctors say they are 'cautiously optimistic' as nonagenarian statesman shows signs of improvement after induced coma following stroke.

Shimon Peres.
Reuters

Israeli former President Shimon Peres' condition improved slightly Wednesday morning, but he was still on life support and put in a medically induced coma after suffering a major stroke late Tuesday.

In the early morning, doctors conducted another medical examination of the Nobel laureate, and he was briefly taken off of medication. "He woke up, opened his eyes, and understood what we told him. He followed our instructions even better than the previous test," said Prof. Ze'ev Feldman, a member of the neurosurgical team treating Peres.

His son-in-law and personal doctor, Prof. Rafi Walden, said earlier that Peres was responsive when taken out of the induced coma for the first time overnight Tuesday.

"This indicates that his cognitive functions are working and that he is capable of comprehending words and translating them into actions. Regaining consciousness and following basic instructions are definitely an important phase and indicates an improvement," Feldman said.

After the examination, Peres was put back into a coma to allow him to rest, though doctors say he is no longer receiving any medication.

"The recuperation process is currently a natural one [by the brain] and can take weeks or even more. This doesn’t mean that there won't be ups and downs. Formally, he is still in serious but stable condition, with a slight improvement," Feldman said.

Responsive

Peres was rushed to Tel Hashomer hospital late Tuesday day after suffering a massive stroke. His personal doctor, Prof. Walden, said he seemed responsive overnight.

Shimon Peres' personal doctor and son-in-law, Prof. Rafi Walden, updates the press about the former president's condition on Wednesday, September 14, 2016.
Moti Milrod

"We were happy to see that when there was a short pause in the anesthetics, we realized that he's responsive, that he's probably attentive to what we're saying to him. He shook our hand," Walden said.  

"All the parameters are stable - blood pressure, heart rate, blood saturation," Waldan told reporters, adding that that gave him a "certain optimism."

 "The chances of survival are pretty good. As for the degree of neurological recovery, nobody can say at this early stage," Walden said.

The head of the hospital said Wednesday that Peres, 93, was now in the neurosurgical intensive care unit.

Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, Dr. Itzik Kreiss said the hospital would hold a press conference in the afternoon to brief the public on Peres' condition. 

Over a seven-decade career, Peres held virtually every senior political office in Israel, including three terms as prime minister and stints as foreign and finance minister. He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reaching an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Earlier this year, Peres was twice hospitalized for heart problems but quickly released. His office said Peres received a pacemaker last week.

Talking to reporters outside the hospital last night, 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."

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone with the hospital director, who updated him on Peres' 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."

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.

Peres, Israel's elder statesman, 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.