Former F1 Champ in Coma After Brain Surgery



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Breaking News from ABC
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ABC Sports News

Culled From Abcnews
Doctors treating Michael Schumacher refused Monday to
predict an outcome for the seven-time Formula One champion, saying they were
taking his critical head injury “hour by hour” following a skiing
accident.

Chief anesthesiologist Jean-Francois
Payen told reporters that

Schumacher was still in a medically induced coma and
doctors were focusing only on his current condition.

“We cannot predict the future for
Michael Schumacher,” said Payen, who is also in charge of Grenoble
University Hospital’s intensive-care unit.

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“He is in a critical state in
terms of cerebral resuscitation,” he added. “We are working hour by
hour.”

Schumacher, the most successful driver
in Formula One history, arrived at the Grenoble hospital a day earlier already
in a coma and immediately underwent brain surgery.

The German driver was skiing with his
son Sunday morning in the French Alpine resort of Meribel when he fell and hit
the right side of his head on a rock. He was wearing a helmet, but doctors said
it was not enough to prevent a serious brain injury.

Gerard Saillant, a trauma surgeon who
operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg in a 1999 race crash, was at the
hospital as a visitor. He told reporters that Schumacher’s age — he turns 45 on
Jan. 3 — and his fitness should work in his favor.

But the Grenoble medical team was being
very cautious about Schumacher’s prognosis. Working to relieve the pressure on
his brain, they lowered his body temperature to between 34 and 35 degrees
Celsius (93.2 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) as part of the medically induced coma.

The neurology team at Grenoble
University Hospital is recognized as among the best in France and the hospital,
in a city that is the gateway to the French Alps, sees a large number of skiing
accidents every year.

Schumacher has been seriously hurt
before. He broke his leg in a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999. He
also suffered serious neck and spine injuries after a motorcycling accident in
February 2009 in Spain.

The area where Schumacher was skiing is
part of a web of trails that slice down through a vast and, in parts, very
steep snowfield. Although challenging, the snowfield is not extreme skiing. The
runs are broad and neatly tended, and the ungroomed area in between, known as
off-piste — where the resort said Schumacher was found — is free of trees.

The resort said Schumacher was
conscious when first responders arrived, although agitated and in shock. But
Payen said Monday that after the fall Schumacher was not in a “normal
state of consciousness.” He was not responding to questions and his limbs
appeared to be moving involuntarily.

He was airlifted to a local hospital
and then later brought to Grenoble. Doctors said that stopover was typical and
did not affect his condition.

His wife and other family members were
by his bedside.

“The family is not doing very well
obviously. They are shocked,” said his manager Sabine Kehm, who added that
the family still appreciated the outpouring of support.

The French prosecutor in Albertville
has opened an investigation into the accident, according to the Mountain
Gendarmerie in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, which will participate in the probe. The
goal is to determine the circumstances of the accident and what was responsible
for it.

Formula One drivers and fans rushed to
wish Schumacher a quick recovery.

“Like millions of Germans, the chancellor and members
of the government were extremely dismayed when they heard about Michael
Schumacher’s serious skiing accident,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin.

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Sebastian Vettel, for whom Schumacher
was a boyhood idol, told German news agency dpa: “I am shocked and hope
that he will get better as soon as possible.”

Ferrari, which Schumacher raced for,
expressed its concern in a statement.

“Everyone at Ferrari has been in a
state of anxiety since hearing about Michael Schumacher’s accident,” it
said, adding that company president, Luca di Montezemolo, and race team leader,
Stefano Domenicali, were in contact with the family.

British former world racing champion
Jenson Button said posted that his “thoughts are with Michael Schumacher
at this tough time. … Michael more than anyone has the strength to pull
through this.”

During his career, Schumacher won seven
drivers’ championships and 91 race wins. After initial success with the
Benetton team, Schumacher moved to Ferrari and helped turn the Italian team
into the sport’s dominant force. After initially retiring in 2006, he made a
comeback in 2010 and raced for three years with Mercedes.

———

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DiLorenzo reported from Paris. Lori
Hinnant in Paris, Geir Moulson in Berlin, AP Sports Writer John Leicester in
Super-Besse, France, and Deborah Gouffran and Milos Krivokapic in Grenoble
contributed to this report.

 


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