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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 14:07 GMT
Ariel Sharon 'moves left limbs'
Ariel Sharon
It is hard to find anyone who thinks Mr Sharon will return to work
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has shown movement in his left arm and leg for the first time since his stroke last week, Israeli Army radio has said.

The report, citing unnamed medical sources, comes a day after the PM moved his right limbs, as doctors reduced the anaesthetic keeping him in a coma.

Despite the positive developments, hospital staff said that Mr Sharon was not out of danger.

Mr Sharon's condition is said to have remained "critical but stable".

He suffered a massive stroke while at his home last Wednesday.

'Mozart symphonies'

Doctors said Mr Sharon had moved his right arm and leg slightly on Monday, and he was able to breathe independently.

Omri Sharon arrives at the Hadassah hospital
Mr Sharon's sons have visited their father in hospital

Nonetheless, the prime minister remained hooked up to a ventilator.

Hadassah hospital director Dr Shlomo Mor-Yosef said the fact that he was able to breathe showed the first sign of some sort of brain activity.

Mr Sharon's brain wave pattern also showed changes when his sons played Mozart symphonies to him, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported.

Other reports said doctors planned to place a shwarma - grilled turkey or lamb in pitta bread - near his bed to stimulate his senses.

But doctors have warned he faces an uncertain road to recovery, as there are still major problems which could kill him or leave him disabled.

Assessment

A full assessment of any brain damage Mr Sharon may have suffered can only be made once the process of weaning him off the sedation is complete.

The neurosurgeon who operated on the 77-year-old prime minister, Jose Cohen, has said that although his chances of survival are "very high", Mr Sharon will not be able to continue as prime minister.

Once Mr Sharon is out of the coma, induced to allow him to rest and heal, his doctors will begin testing his cognitive responses.

The medics will then pass their assessment of brain damage to Attorney General Meni Mazuz.

If the assessment declares that Mr Sharon has been permanently incapacitated and is unable to return to office, a cabinet meeting will be called to choose a caretaker leader to be prime minister until the general election.

The five cabinet members from Mr Sharon's Kadima party are the only eligible candidates, but of those, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is seen as the real contender, as the other four are backing him to assume the role.


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