The 84-year-old suffered a huge stroke seven years ago and has remained in a vegetative state since. He is connected to a respirator at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, Israel.
Now, however, new tests reveal that Mr. Sharon can respond to external stimuli. When shown pictures of his family and played a recording of his son’s voice, the former Israeli leader’s brain activity is said to have increased.
The group of Israeli and American scientists who conducted the tests noted that, “significant brain activity was observed… indicating appropriate processing of these stimulations.” Doctors described the results as “encouraging”, though warned that the responses were no guarantee that Sharon would regain full consciousness.
Alon Friedman, a neurological director at the Soroka Medical Centre, said:
“[Even in his comatose state, Mr. Sharon] might be listening, and some important information goes into his brain and is being processed.”
Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001 when he promised to achieve “security and true peace.” Following his stroke on January 4, 2006, he was replaced by Prime Minister-Designate Ehud Olmert.
Before entering politics, Sharon was a much-decorated military officer and, as defense minister, oversaw Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. He remains a divisive figure, an individual admired by many Israelis, but also loathed by many Palestinians.