Ex-Israel PM Ariel Sharon faces 'imminent' death: hospital

Ex-Israel PM Ariel Sharon faces 'imminent' death: hospital

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is "clinging to life" as he was facing imminent death with his condition taking turn for the worse, the head of the hospital treating him since 2006 said today.

The 85-year-old was fighting like a "true lion" Zeev Rotstein, the director of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, told reporters about the former General who has been in coma since 2006 after suffering a massive stroke.

Sharon was "still in danger of imminent death" although his "heart is holding out better than we thought," Rotstein said.

"Our general assessment is there is no way to overcome this crisis...I am perhaps more pessimistic than I was before...his vital functions, especially renal, haven't picked up."
The hospital on Friday said there were traces of infection in Sharon's blood, and that it had not been possible for him to undergo renal dialysis since his other organs were in such a fragile state.

The eighth anniversary of the stroke that left Sharon in a coma and ended his political career was marked yesterday.

Sharon's family is said to be constantly by his bed side since the hospital announced that his condition was "critical" last week. His health has been deteriorating since Wednesday after a surgery. 

Rotstein yesterday said that a slow deterioration in the functioning of Sharon's vital organs had begun. Tests indicated a blood infection among the ailments that Sharon faced, he said.

Asked if Sharon was in his final days, Rotstein had said, "I personally feel so".

Sharon has been suffering from renal failure but was not expected to undergo dialysis due to the dangers the procedure could present given his fragile physical state.

He is revered by many in Israel as "Mr. Security" for his contributions in all the major wars since Israel's independence. He is reviled in equal measure in the Arab world as the "butcher of Sabra and Shatila".

The former Israeli leader surprised many of his die hard followers by deciding to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 after having been at the forefront of building the right-wing nationalist camp for decades.

While serving as defence minister in 1982, he masterminded Israel's invasion of Lebanon. During the invasion, Lebanese Christian militiamen allied to Israel massacred hundreds of Palestinians in two Beirut refugee camps - Sabra and Shatila - under Israeli control.

He was nevertheless elected prime minister 18 years later, pledging to achieve "security and true peace", and served until his second stroke.

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