Formula One legend Michael Schumacher remained “stable” after spending a third night in hospital with severe brain injuries sustained while skiing off-piste in the French Alps.
The German racing great entered the new year in an induced coma and a critical condition, with his family at his bedside in the French Alpine city of Grenoble and doctors unsure of his future.
The 44-year-old’s fight for survival after he fell and slammed his head on a rock Sunday has shocked legions of fans used to seeing him brave death on the racing tracks. “At the moment, he is stable,” the seven-time world champion’s manager Sabine Kehm told reporters massed outside the hospital in Grenoble on Wednesday, in a brief update before heading back inside.
Initially described as serious but not life-threatening after the accident in the upmarket resort of Meribel, Schumacher’s condition rapidly deteriorated and by Sunday evening, doctors said he was in critical condition and had undergone an emergency operation. On Tuesday, they said a slight improvement in his condition had allowed them to perform a second nearly two-hour long procedure to remove bleeding in the brain, but warned he was “not out of danger” yet. “We cannot speculate on the future,” said Jean-Francois Payen, head of the intensive care unit at the hospital. “We cannot say he is out of danger but we have gained some time.”
Doctors have so far ruled out any transfer from the hospital, which they say would be “dangerous”. But they have pointed out that Schumacher, due to turn 45 on January 3, has age and physical fitness on his side. He has been put in a medically induced coma to spur recovery, and his temperature has been reduced to around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) to reduce swelling.
‘Chain of events’
It is as yet unclear exactly how the accident happened, but a source close to a probe into the incident told AFP that Schumacher’s helmet, which medics say saved his life, had been smashed “in two” by the impact. Kehm told journalists Tuesday that Schumacher was skiing “with a small group of friends” as well as his 14-year-old son Mick.
She said he was not skiing at high speed when the accident happened. “He seems to have hit a rock as he took a turn. It was a chain of unfortunate circumstances.” Kehm added that the accident could have happened anyime, even “at 10 kilometres (six