A fan's cap hangs on the fence of the karting circuit owned by German former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.
A fan's cap hangs on the fence of the karting circuit owned by German former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.

Doctors 'can't guarantee' Schumacher will survive

DOCTORS treating retired Formula One champion Michael Schumacher say they cannot guarantee his recovery from a skiing accident in the French Alps.

A press conference at the Grenoble university hospital was told that Schumacher, 44, was still in critical condition and an artificially-induced coma after brain surgery.

The hospital's chief anaesthetist, Jean-François Payen, said that it was too early to "predict the future" for the seven-times world racing champion.

"We can say that his condition is life-threatening," Dr Payen, said. "For the moment, we can make no prediction on the future of Michael Schumacher."

Without a helmet, the former racing champion would have been killed, he said. Neurosurgeon Stephan Chabardes said that a brain scan had revealed internal bleeding and injuries including contusions and lesions.

He said they had operated a first time to treat the internal bleeding.

The doctors denied reports that they had performed a second operation overnight. They said that they were waiting to see how Schumacher responds before deciding on the next phase of treatment.

The extent of his head injuries, despite the fact that he was wearing a helmet, suggested that Schumacher was travelling very fast at the time of the accident on Sunday morning, Mr Payen said.

He lost control for reasons unknown while skiing off-piste, between two relatively easy slopes, at the exclusive resort of Meribel in the Three Valleys region of the French Alps. His 14-year-old son was with him at the time.

Dr Payen said that Schumacher had suffered a "serious skull trauma" and that "haemorrhaging lesions" had been discovered on his brain. His body was being kept at the low temperature of 34 to 35 centigrade (instead of 37C) according to procedure. The aim, the doctor said, was to "reduce the pressure within the skull".

"His helmet protected him partially," the doctor said. "Anyone who had had this accident without a helmet would not have survived this long."

The German driver retired from Formula One for the second time last year after making a three-year comeback with Mercedes. He lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children.

Schumacher first retired in 2006 after winning five F1 titles in a row with Ferrari, after two earlier successes with Benetton.



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