Sharon to undergo surgery Tuesday to restore part of his skull: hospital

Comatose Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo surgery Tuesday to restore part of his skull removed in previous operations after he suffered a debilitating stroke, his hospital said Monday in a statement.

The operation is to be conducted in the afternoon, the statement said. Sharon suffered the stroke on Jan. 4 and has not regained consciousness.

Hospital officials said last week that a decision is to be made about whether to move Sharon to a long-term care facility. Experts agree that his chances of recovery are extremely slim, and with each day he remains in a coma, his chances of regaining consciousness diminish. The hospital has consistently described his condition as "critical but stable."

TV reports last week said the operation to restore about one-quarter of Sharon's skull, removed during previous surgeries, is necessary to allow his transfer to another facility. This will be Sharon's eighth operation since he suffered the stroke, including lengthy procedures to stop the bleeding in his brain after the hemorrhagic stroke.

Sharon, 78, had formed a new political party, Kadima, and was well on his way to being elected for a third time as Israel's prime minister when he was felled by the stroke. Ehud Olmert, his closest political ally, took over as acting prime minister and head of Kadima. In the election last week, the party finished first, and Olmert is likely to be chosen to form the new government.

The Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported earlier Monday that Israel's Cabinet will declare Sharon "permanently incapacitated" at its next session on Sunday, allowing Olmert to assume the title of prime minister even before he puts together a coalition government, reports AP.


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