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Sharon's Doctors Say Too Early To Measure Brain Damage

Sharon on 25 December, chairing a cabinet meeting after recovering from his first stroke one week earlier (epa) 9 January 2006 -- Doctors trying to revive Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from his medically-induced coma say it is too early to assess the damage his brain has sustained since he suffered a stroke on 4 January.

Dr. Felix Umansky, head of neurosurgery at Hadassah Medical Center, says it will be at least several days before doctors can talk about Sharon's cognitive functions.

"He's in a severe, critical condition. We are just at the beginning of a long way that he needs to undergo and we need to be very cautious when talking about the prognosis. But we are going to do everything we can to help him to pull through this situation."

Hospital director Shlomo Mor-Yosef says Sharon was able to breathe independently today, although he remains on an artificial respirator. Mor-Yosef says Sharon also "slightly moved" his right arm and right leg when he was tested today for his reaction to pain.

Sharon's surgeons and his political allies said yesterday that he is unlikely to be able to work again as the Israeli prime minister.