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Michael Schumacher: Conflicting reports over his condition

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Formula One racing champion Michael Schumacher's condition is either good or not so good depending on who one believes, according to an article in Friday's London Express. The most positive news is that he is no longer on a ventilator and is breathing independently, according to news circulating throughout Italy.

However, a different picture is painted by German news sources. One German source said that he is in bad shape.

Devoted wife Corinna and fellow former F-1 driver brother Ralf Schumacher have been consulting specialists around Europe in addition to the team currently treating him in University Hospital of Grenoble, France. Evidently, they are seeking second opinions.

His longtime public relations person Sabine Kehm, 45, said Friday, "Any medical information published which is not confirmed by the team of doctors treating Michael or his management has to be considered as not valid."

Kehm, a fellow German, further reiterated, "Michael is still in the wake up phase. The situation has not changed."

The winningest Formula One champion in history is entering his tenth week in an induced coma. He sustained a severe head injury Dec. 29 while skiing near the Meribel resort in the French Alps. His skis struck a snow-covered rock sending him airborne for 34 feet before his helmet struck a larger rock. His helmet reportedly split upon impact.

He spoke a few words immediately after the accident and was conscious. However, after he was flown by helicopter to Grenoble, he was placed into a medically-induced coma to allow his brain time to heal. Surgeons performed two surgeries, removing blood clots. They were unable to reach some blood clots which were too deep to remove.

The German magazine Focus reported recently that the process of waking Michael up was halted when complications occurred and the champion was placed back into a coma. Ms. Kehm repudiated that report from the 800,000 circulation German publication in Munich. Focus was started in 1993 by Helmut Markwort and enjoys a good reputation.

As a wealthy man, Schumacher certainly has the best medical care which money can provide.

As the 91-race winner continues to flight for his life, thoughts of him blanket the Formula One racing community. Sebastian Vettel, the reigning Formula One champion, expressed his hopes for Michael's recovery as he prepares his Red Bull car for the season which begins with the Australian Grand Prix in March.

Vettel said that while Schumacher was his idol as a youth, he became close to him when Michael embarked upon his comeback with Mercedes. He recently said his hopes are with Michael and his family.

Schumacher, with seven world championships, is atop the alltime Formula One standings. Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio is second with five which he earned driving during the 1950s. Vettel and French great Alain Prost are third with four championships.

Schumacher reigned supreme during his prime as he won five consecutive world championships beginning in 2000 drivng the Prancing Horses of Ferrari. He fended off challenges from all comers including Mika Hakkenen who drove for McLaren and Damon Hill who drove for Williams. Michael won his first two championships for Benetton and then Benetton-Renault.

Fernando Alonso, who won two world championships while driving for Renault, said he will dedicate this season to Schumacher. He said that Michael won a championship in his fifth season for Ferrari and that he will now attempt to duplicate that feat in honor of Michael.

Honors for Michael continue to mount as the Bahrain Grand Prix racetrack recently named a corner after the man who is reputed by many to be the greatest Formula One driver in history. Jean Todt, current F-1 president, and Ross Brawn, owner of his own team now, both have expressed their sympathy. Todt and Brawn teamed up with Schumacher to dominate the world of F-l.

Michael continues to fight for his life with his devoted wife Corinna beside him. Brother Ralf and father Rolf have also spent considerable time talking to Michael during this his most serious test in the hopes he will recognize their voices and emerge from the coma soon. Michael and Corinna have two children.

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