Ariel Sharon's life in danger, doctors say

The Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, where Sharon is being treated, released a statement late Sunday saying the former leader's kidneys were failing and that changes were detected in his brain membrane. Sharon, 78, has been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke in January.

But Dr. John Martin, a cardiovascular expert at London's University College, said the kidney failure and the changes in the brain membrane that Sharon has suffered in the past two days indicate the former leader's life is in danger. His comments were echoed by other physicians quoted in Israeli media.

Kidney dialysis and drugs to treat what appears to be cerebral edema could lead to an improvement in Sharon's condition within hours, Martin said. But many physicians would choose not to take such steps when a patient has been in a coma for more than seven months, he added.

The Sheba hospital said in a statement more tests were being run on the former leader to determine what had caused the change in his condition. But a spokeswoman at the hospital refused to say whether Sharon's life was in danger.

Sharon, Israel's most popular politician, had a small stroke in December and was put on blood thinners before he suffered a severe brain hemorrhage in January. The Israeli leader underwent several, extensive brain surgeries to stop the bleeding, and many independent experts doubted that he would ever recover.

The last surgery on Sharon, in April, was to reattach a part of his skull, removed during the emergency surgery to reduce pressure on his brain. The reattachment was described as a necessary step before transferring Sharon to the long-term care facility at Sheba hospital.

Experts have said Sharon's chances of ever waking up after his massive stroke in January are not good, according to the AP.

His stroke came after Sharon saw through his contentious plan to withdrawal Israel from the Gaza Strip after 38 years, and just two months after Sharon shook up the Israeli political map by bolting his hard-line Likud Party to form the centrist Kadima faction.