Doctor: Sharon's Life Still In Danger

Israelis were stunned at the illness of their 77-year-old leader and have intensely followed updates on his condition. Some made pilgrimages to the hospital, gathering outside to pray, hanging up posters of support and offering letters of well wishes, many written by young children.

Israeli police said Tuesday that crime in the country had fallen 50 percent since Sharon's stroke. "It's hard to explain, but since the prime minister became ill there seems to have been a change in people's behavior patterns, their way of thinking," police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

Since Sharon's stroke, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has worked hard to portray an aura of stability. His first major test is resolving a dispute over whether to allow Palestinians to vote in the contested city of Jerusalem during Jan. 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections, an issue that threatened to derail the balloting.

Olmert's office said the Cabinet will vote during its weekly meeting Sunday on whether to let Arab residents of Jerusalem cast absentee ballots in post offices — a compromise used in previous elections — provided no candidates from the militant Hamas group were on the ballot.

Israel refuses to allow regular elections in Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital, out of fears it would weaken its claim to the city.

Sharon's departure from the political scene has not effected the popularity of his new party, reports Berger.

His centrist Kadima party is still expected to win the March 28 elections by a landslide, according to two new polls. With acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as its leader, Kadima would win 44 seats in the 120 member parliament. The hawkish Likud party led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would win just 14 seats.

Sharon suffered an initial, minor stroke Dec. 18, which doctors said was caused when a blood clot escaped through a small hole in his heart. Doctors prescribed Sharon blood thinners ahead of a planned procedure to close the hole. Outside experts said the blood thinners could have worsened Sharon's brain hemorrhage.

Doctors discovered after Sharon's initial stroke that he suffered from cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a disease that can cause brain bleeding, particularly in the elderly, Mor-Yosef said Tuesday. The revelation raised questions about doctors' decision to prescribe blood thinners.

Birenboim defended the treatment in Wednesday's radio interview.

The blood thinners were prescribed based on a "consensus of experts," Birenboim said, saying the group carefully weighed the pros and cons of how to treat the prime minister after his first stroke.

"Everyone can be intelligent in hindsight ... but what if we had not given the prime minister the blood-thinning medication and he had suffered another clot? What would have been said then?" Birenboim asked.

"This is part of the art of medicine," he said. "We have to consider things from here and there and decrease the damage as much as possible."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for