On Wednesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered severe cerebral hemorrhaging. At Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, Sharon was placed under general anesthesia, and he underwent a six-hour life-threatening operation, as well as a follow-up operation Thursday morning, to stop the bleeding. These procedures appear to have been successful, but doctors are keeping Sharon in an induced coma. Sharon’s vital signs are stable, but he has experienced brain damage, the amount of which cannot be verified until he is conscious.
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the hospital’s director, has refuted rumors that Sharon is dead, and has pointed out that Sharon’s pupils are responding to light, suggesting that some (perhaps much) brain function remains.
Upon Sharon’s anesthetization, his governmental powers were transfered to Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, who will serve as Interim Prime Minister of Israel, possibly until Israel’s March 28 election. Sharon had a minor stroke on December 18 (apparently caused by a congenital heart defect), and he had been scheduled to undergo heart surgery today to prevent further such strokes. He had planned to temporarily transfer power to Olmert and return to work following the surgery, but it is now uncertain if Sharon will ever be physically and mentally capable of serving in public office again.