Grenoble (France): French doctors treating Michael Schumacher for brain injuries, sustained in a skiing accident, said the seven-times Formula One world champion was in slightly better condition on Tuesday after an overnight operation, but that he remained fragile.
The 44-year-old German is battling for his life after slamming his head against a rock while skiing off-piste in the French resort of Meribel on Sunday, an accident which triggered an outpouring of concern among fans around the world.
Doctors treating him at a hospital in the eastern city of Grenoble said his condition had stabilised enough by late Monday to carry out another operation to treat the effects of internal bleeding within Schumacher’s skull.
“The situation is more under control than yesterday (Monday) but we cannot say he is out of danger,” Jean-Francois Payen, head anaesthetist, told reporters at the CHU hospital in the eastern French city of Grenoble.
“We have won some time but we must continue an hour-by-hour surveillance... It is premature to speculate on his condition,” he said, adding that Schumacher was still in a critical state and suffering from severe lesions and contusions.
Emmanuel Gay, head of the hospital’s neuro-surgery service, said the operation carried out around 10.00 pm (local time, 2100 GMT) on Monday had successfully removed a large hematoma — the medical term for a build-up of blood — from his brain.
“It was larger and more accessible (than others) ... We judged we could remove it without taking any risks,” Gay said. He said the operation was designed to reduce, within Schumacher’s skull, the pressure on the brain.
Doctors said the fact that the retired motor racing champion was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident had at least enabled him to make it to the hospital alive.
Payen said the medical team in Grenoble had discussed the operation with Schumacher’s family. He added that the condition of the motor racing great was still too fragile to consider transferring him to another hospital for the time being.
Schumacher is under the care of Prof. Gerard Saillant, a brain and spinal injury expert who is also president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Institute.
Saillant said it was still impossible to say how Schumacher’s condition would progress in coming days. “We are a little less worried than yesterday (Monday) but I’m sure you understand that the situation could change this evening or tomorrow,” he told a news conference.
Schumacher, who lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children, is the most successful Formula One driver of all times, with a record 91 race victories in a career spanning more than two decades.