Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was transferred from a French hospital to a facility in Switzerland today after emerging from a coma following his devastating ski accident in December.
In a surprise announcement, the retired German racing star's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said he had left hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble, where he had been treated since December 29 when he slammed his head on a rock while skiing with his son and friends.
The 45-year-old was transferred to a hospital in the Swiss city of Lausanne where he will be undergoing further treatment, hospital spokesman Darcy Christen told AFP.
Stressing the hospital's commitment to privacy, Christen said Michael Schumacher's family was with him "in a space created especially to ensure their intimacy and to ensure the best possible care."
Schumacher, his wife Corinna and two children live in Switzerland in the small town of Gland.
While news of his accident in the French skiing resort of Meribel attracted throngs of global media to the Grenoble hospital, his departure Monday morning was very discreet and no press conference was scheduled to further brief the media.
In a statement, the seven-time world champion's spokeswoman Kehm said his family wanted to "thank all his treating doctors, nurses and therapists in Grenoble as well as the first aiders at the place of the accident, who did an excellent job in those first months."
"For the future we ask for understanding that his further rehabilitation will take place away from the public eye," she said.
She gave no further details about Schumacher's condition, which have been kept under a tight lid since his accident.
The racing star underwent two operations to remove life-threatening blood clots after the freak accident that shocked the world, before being plunged into a medically induced coma.
His family announced at the end of January that drugs used to keep him in his deep sleep were being reduced with a view to bringing him back to consciousness.
Since then, Kehm had said he was showing short moments of consciousness, but few other details had filtered out and it is still unclear as to what the future holds for Schumacher.
Doctors say some patients only show signs of improvement several years after their accident, and in an April interview with German broadcaster ARD, Kehm said that "a medical prognosis is not possible" due to the nature of his brain injury.