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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 05:12 GMT
Sharon's stroke blood 'drained'
Ariel Sharon
Sharon remains in a comatose state
A scan of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's brain has shown there is no sign left of bleeding from the stroke he suffered last week, doctors say.

A tube used to drain excess fluid from his head had been removed, Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital said.

A statement on Friday said Mr Sharon's state was unchanged, and a neurological evaluation would occur later.

Earlier, three ministers were told to quit by the head of the Likud party, from which Mr Sharon split last year.

The resignations from the cabinet, ordered by Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu as he prepares the party for polls in March, had briefly been postponed following Mr Sharon's stroke.

A fourth Likud member, Silvan Shalom, has been quoted as saying he will resign from his job as foreign minister in the next few days.

On Wednesday, Israel's Labour party declared its campaign for the 28 March general election to be up and running.

Opinion polls suggest that Mr Sharon's new ruling party, Kadima, could win the election even if he is not at the helm.

Windpipe plan

A statement from the Hadassah hospital said: "The Prime Minister's heart rate is regular and body temperature is normal."

Sharon suffers minor stroke on 18 December 2005
Doctors discover small hole in heart, schedule operation for 5 January
Sharon rushed to hospital one day before scheduled surgery with major stroke
Undergoes two operations overnight on 4/5 January, followed by third on 6 January

Doctors at the hospital have reportedly inserted a fresh intravenous dip into Mr Sharon's arm to prevent infection.

Mr Sharon has yet to emerge from the coma he entered after suffering a massive stroke last week.

He is being kept under mild sedation.

Should he fail to awaken within the next few days, doctors may cut a small hole in his neck to insert a tube into his windpipe, Israeli daily Maariv reports.

The procedure, known as a tracheotomy, may be necessary to prevent a plastic tube currently in Mr Sharon's windpipe from causing any damage.

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