Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Israel’s comatose Sharon shows brain activity

JERUSALEM — Seven years after a massive stroke removed him from office and left him in a vegetative state, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is able to process information and has exhibited “robust activity” in his brain, according to doctors who conducted recent tests.

Though some hoped Sharon might regain consciousness and resume his life, experts warned that was highly unlikely.

The medical team that tested him last week said Monday that the scans showed the 84-year-old Sharon responding to pictures of his family and recordings of his son’s voice. They cautioned, however, it is not clear how much he understood, stressing the chances of his regaining full capacities are almost zero.

“We were surprised to see such robust activity in his brain,” said Dr. Alon Friedman, head of the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. “The information is getting in and is getting processed. He hears what they are saying. To what extent he understands, we cannot say for sure … but there are encouraging hints that he does.”

Sharon was at the height of his political power in early 2006 when a devastating stroke incapacitated him. He has been in a deep coma ever since, connected to a respirator. His family has said he sometimes opens his eyes and moves his fingers, but little else has been disclosed about his condition. No one has suggested that his cognitive functions have returned.

Last week a team of Israeli and U.S. scientists performed a series of tests on him at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, using a newly developed functional MRI to assess his brain function. Friedman said the two-hour procedure was among the first of its type to be conducted on someone who had suffered such a brain hemorrhage. It is also rare to perform such tests on someone Sharon’s age, he said.

Friedman would not disclose additional information about Sharon’s medical state or say whether there had been any physical reactions to the stimuli. He said the findings would provide solace to Sharon’s sons, Gilad and Omri, giving them confirmation that their father could hear them. Omri Sharon declined comment when contacted by The Associated Press Monday.

Raanan Gissin, a long-time Sharon confidante, said those close to the former leader were encouraged by the tests.

“The hope is not that he will return to be the leader that he was, but basically the hope … that Sharon will return to normal life,” he said. “The people of Israel really feel gratitude toward Sharon and they think he deserves to end his life like a normal person.”

Experts doubted that would happen.

Dr. Ilan Shelef, head of medical imaging at Soroka University Medical Center, sought to temper expectations from the results of Thursday’s scans.

“What is very important to understand is that we have a snapshot of what happened” during the test, said Shelef, who participated in the testing. “He received some stimuli from his family and he responded to these stimuli. It was a metabolic response in the brain,” he said. “Metabolic” refers to physical reactions.

“We don’t know what happened two years ago or four years ago and we have no idea what will happen in the future,” he said. “We just know that on Thursday evening there was a metabolic response in the brain of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.”

Dr. Nicholas Schiff, professor of neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College, called the findings “interesting but ambiguous” and warned against reading too much into the tests.

Schiff, who did not participate in the testing and said he had not reviewed the research, said the FMRI is a widely used tool used for gathering data, but there is no consensus among researchers on interpreting the results. “In general, there are very few uses of FMRIs that unequivocally demonstrate awareness in patients that appear unresponsive,” he said.

Sharon was a highly decorated military officer who fought in three wars before entering politics in the 1970s and serving in a series of top ministerial posts. He was elected prime minister in 2001 and led Israel for the next five years until he was incapacitated.

Shortly before his stroke, he directed a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, ending a 38-year military occupation of the territory, bolted his hard-line Likud Party and established the centrist Kadima Party. He appeared on his way to an easy re-election when he suffered the stroke. His deputy, Ehud Olmert, took over and was elected prime minister a few months later.

Sharon had a first, small stroke in December 2005 and was put on blood thinners before experiencing a severe brain hemorrhage on Jan. 4, 2006. After spending months in the Jerusalem hospital where he was initially treated, Sharon was transferred to the long-term care facility at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

After his second stroke, doctors performed several extensive emergency brain operations to stop cerebral hemorrhaging. After a long stay at the hospital, he was taken for a brief period to his home in southern Israel. He was rushed at least once into intensive care for dialysis after his kidneys began failing.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano unemployment inches downward

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Transplant recipients talk about their best gifts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Police release name of woman found dead in Fairfield canal

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Spering, Bertani spar over fighting crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield council candidates weigh in on crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Five homes featured on Symphony Home Tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Congregation invites public to Easter music, message

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Local woman helps spread Easter joy

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B12 | Gallery

Weather for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B13

 
.

US / World

California farmers to get more water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teen sentenced in Oakland toddler’s killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

More Latino than white students admitted to UC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mom and son who died in San Francisco fire ID’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
3 alleged gang members convicted of murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
From Clinton to Obama, many parallels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Easter on 4/20, pot holy day; pastors reach out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
NASA’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
White House updating online privacy policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Sudden movement raises alarm in Wyoming slide area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Some countries get Obama, but want his wife, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Man who avoided prison is overwhelmed by support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
In Egypt, a corruption watchdog hit by backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Military scales down, modifies Guam buildup plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Captain of sunken SKorean ferry arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
57-nation OSCE plays key Ukraine monitoring role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine crisis: The turning points

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

Cheers, jeers for the week of April 13-19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Here we go again in Sacramento

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 7 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Seniors, it’s never too late to do something about your health

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Prince reaches agreement with music label

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

‘The Boondocks’ back for final ‘offensive’ season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

Stratocaster still a favorite at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Sports

Hertl has impressive playoff debut for Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors and Clippers take dislike to playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Big innings lift Mustangs over Indians

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Ross, Padres beat Cain and Giants 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s come out swinging to beat Astros 11-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors to start O’Neal for Bogut vs. Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mets trade 1B Ike Davis to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

TNT’s Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

A’s lefty reliever Doolittle gets 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
’40-and-up club’: Ageless Hopkins after more belts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Solano scores in ninth for 2-1 BVC baseball win over Yuba

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Choi leads rain-delayed RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
NBA’s Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA playoffs looking more wide-open than expected

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Source: Grizzlies’ G Calathes suspended for 20 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

5 features an Amazon phone might offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Judge says American can’t end retiree benefits yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs for rust problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 04/19/14

Summerwood features 8 new homes in Suisun

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3