News that doctors were unable to reach some blood clots during surgery of Formula One champion Michael Schumacher poses the most serious threat to his recovery, according to the New York Times in an article today, Thursday, Feb. 27. Following his ski accident on Dec. 29 in the Alps, doctors performed two operations in the first 36 hours at the hospital to remove blood clots from his brain.
Scans performed following the second surgery revealed to doctors that more clots deeper inside his brain existed. The remaining blood clots are inaccessible to surgery, according to medical experts. It is the deep clots which are the most serious obstacles to his recovery.
Grenoble doctors then decided to begin efforts to bring Schumacher from his medically-induced coma. The German newspaper Focus recently reported that doctors had to halt the process of awakening Michael from his coma because of problems. The Focus is published in Munich and has approximately 800,000 readers around the world. Concerns among Schumacher's millions of admirers spanning the globe escalated because the Focus is reputed to have connections to Schumacher's inner circle.
Pessimistic reports by Focus and other German newspapers caused Sabine Kehm, Schumacher's longtime manager, to say that the process of lifting the seven-time world champion from his coma remained "unchanged." Otherwise, Kehm has declined to release details of Schumacher's condition.
"If they're not releasing good news because there is none, then that's very bad news indeed," said Gary Hartstein, an American anesthesiologist. Hartstein worked for eight years as head of Formula One's medical unit.
Hartstein further said, "After eight weeks, if there's no sign of waking, what most people would do his unplug."
However, his loyal wife Corrina Schumacher has been consistently upbeat in her statements. She has said repeatedly she expects him to recover. She speaks to him in his hospital room at University Hospital in Grenoble on a regular basis hoping he will recognize her voice and emerge from the coma.
Close friend and former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa recently visited Schumacher in the hospital and said Schumacher moved his mouth in response to Massa's descripton of his move from Ferrari to Williams. Massa also described how testing had gone at Jerez, Spain.
Other observers have said Schumacher has blinked his eyes in response to tests while he's been comatose. Good news was also delivered by David K. Menon, a Cambridge University specialist. Menon said, "A couple of weeks after you stop sedatives it's too early to say that somebody is in a persistent vegetative state."
Schumacher won his first world championship with Benetton. He repeated that championship the following year piloting cars for Benetton-Reneault. He changed teams and joined a weak Ferrari team the following year which was in need of rejuvenation. Schumacher's brilliant input and driving resulted in five consecutive world driving championships from 2000-2004. That streak left the German ace at the top of the list of alltime drivers with seven championships.
Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio won five championships in the 1950s. Outstanding French driver Alain Prost won four world titles shortly before Schumacher began his brilliant career. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel has four world championships driving for Red Bull.
Schumacher later made a return from retirement driving for Mercedes.
Skiers congregate around the site of Schumacher's Dec. 29 accident. He struck a snow-covered rock which caused him to go airborne for 34 feet before his helmet head struck a larger rock. His helmet split as a result of the impact.
Schumacher was then airlifted to Grenoble's University Hospital where he was placed into a medically-induced coma. The champion was skiing with his 14-year old son Mick on the Saulire mountain in the Alps at the time of the accident. The incident occurred approximately 7,000 feet up the mountain.
It is impossible to know the exact condition of the popular world champion with all the conflicting opinions and reports flying around from Munich to London to New York. The one unassailable fact is that millions of fans are hoping and praying for his complete recovery.
While the Formula One season begins March 16, the best news that elite racing community could receive would be for Michael to be awake and watching that first race with Corrina and friends
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