Former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for seven years following a stroke, has surprised doctors by showing significant signs of brain activity.
The team at Israel’s Soroka Medical Centre say their machines detected some brain function when he was shown photos of his family and asked to imagine his home.
Neurologist Alon Friedman said the results show that he could in some way be “listening”:
“We cannot project anything, the point is that for his family and for the treating team we now know that he can take information and process it and even, perhaps, he is.. at some level he was conscious and this is very important for the family,” Friedman said.
The Soroka team say the test results are a potential breakthrough in coma research, but stress that the chances of 84-year Sharon getting out of bed are very slim.
A hard-line right winger for most of his career, Sharon was Israeli prime minister from 2001 until his 2006 stroke.
In 2005 he made a political about-face, withdrawing Israeli troops from Gaza in the hope of advancing peace with the Palestinians.