Doctors tell Michael Schumacher's family that 'only a miracle' can save him: F1 legend still in a medically-induced coma 69 days after ski accident
- F1 driver has today been in artificially induced coma for 69 days
- Management team has said he remains in 'wake up' phase of his treatment
Michael Schumacher (pictured in 2012) has today been in an artificially induced coma for 69 days since the ski accident on December 29
The family of F1 legend Michael Schumacher have been informed by doctors treating him that the chances of recovery are now so slim that only 'a miracle' can save him.
Today the 45-year-old winner of seven grand prix titles has been in an artificially induced coma for 69 days since badly injuring his brain during a low-speed ski accident in the French Alps on December 29. Most artificial comas last for a period of two to three weeks.
His management team, led by spokeswoman Sabine Kehm, insist that he remains in the 'wake up' phase of his treatment as doctors continue to decrease the powerful narcotics that have kept him unconscious. Official news about his condition is minimal: but sources close to the family say the prognosis for Schumacher could not be worse.
'He is in terrible shape but until the family issue a statement we cannot write about it,' said one senior German journalist. 'The family have, we are told, been informed that only a miracle can bring him back now.'
However, Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport is claiming that the seven-time world champion is no longer on a ventilator and is now breathing independently.
Focus magazine reported a fortnight ago that the wake-up phase had been stopped due to complications and that he was placed back in the coma. That was denied by Kehm although experts say that such a super-fit individual as Schumacher would have expelled all the drugs from his body by now, and that if he was going to wake up, he would have done so already.
This week was a vital one for Schumacher: two months into his coma - induced to slow down brain functions, thus allowing it to heal more rapidly - doctors were hoping for a sign that he was aware of his environment.
Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport is claiming that the seven-time world champion is no longer on a ventilator and is now breathing independently
They look for a fluttering of eyelids or a movement of fingers that is more than a reflex nerve twitch.
'This has not happened,' said another source close to the family. 'On Sunday his wife Corinna spent her 45th birthday at his bedside with their children Gina Marie and Mick, his brother Ralf and his father Rolf Schumacher.
'They talked and talked and prayed for him to acknowledge their presence. But he remains comatose with tubes feeding him, supplying him with air, giving him medicine and removing waste from his body.
'The doctors have given it to them straight. There is little hope left that he will come out of this.
'Miracles happen, of course, and as a wealthy man he has the best care money can buy. But all the money in the world cannot fix what has happened to him.'
Three times daily Schumacher's joints and muscles are massaged to prevent atrophy and bed sores.
This week was a vital one for Schumacher - two months into his coma, doctors were hoping for a sign that he was aware of his environment (2012 file picture)
The coma suppressed his swallowing reflex, pain perception and his respiratory drive. He has to be acutely monitored around the clock during this wake-up phase to see if such things are returning naturally.
Experts say that perhaps the greatest risk of all facing Schumacher in his prone position is pneumonia. The lack of a competent swallowing mechanism can make saliva run into the lungs and trigger the potentially lethal respiratory infection. He has already had - and conquered - one lung infection.
His blood is also thinned to prevent thrombosis and he is regularly turned and even stood straight up at times to keep it flowing.
Schumacher was injured in a skiing accident on December 29 (file picture from 2005)
He lies on a special air-filled mattress to prevent pressure sores and his urinary tract is under constant vigilance because of the danger of waste bacteria entering the bloodstream and causing a potentially fatal infection.
Gary Hartstein, a former F1 doctor, wrote on Sunday: 'The majority of the patients that come out alive from a coma after this amount of time suffer severe disabilities.'
He and others say the supposed mouth movements that Schumacher's former teammate Felipe Massa saw were probably nothing more than pure nerve reflexes that repeatedly occur in coma patients and not conscious movements.