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Niki prays for Schumacher

- No ‘significant change’ in legend’s condition
Michael Schumacher

Grenoble: Formula One legend Michael Schumacher remained “stable” but was still in a critical condition on Thursday after four nights in hospital battling severe brain injuries following a skiing accident in France.

The German racing great remained in an induced coma and a critical condition, with his wife Corinna, 16-year-old daughter Gina-Maria and 14-year-old son Mick at his bedside in the French Alpine city of Grenoble.

His family posted a message on his website, thanking the fans for their support. “We would like to thank the people from all around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes for his recovery. We all know he is a fighter and will not give up,” the message said.

The seven-time world champion’s fight for survival after he fell and slammed his head on a rock on Sunday has shocked legions of fans used to seeing him cheat death on the racing tracks. The accident prompted an outpouring of sympathy from racing stars and fans alike. Former Formula One champion Niki Lauda, who himself suffered severe injuries in a 1976 racing crash, has also come out in support of the man.

“I think there is someone up there who is trying to help him in this situation. At the time, I could help myself. Michael, though, cannot do anything for the moment,” he said.

Players from Premier League leaders Arsenal also sent Schumacher a get well message. Following a match on Wednesday Arsenal’s German forward Lukas Podolski posted a picture on Facebook of him and several of his teammates holding an under-shirt bearing the message ‘Get Well Soon Schumi’.

Corinna Schumacher

Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s manager, said there are no significant changes since his doctors met reporters on Tuesday.

“Michael’s condition has been supervised all night… The good news for today is that we do not have the feeling to hold a news conference because there’s no significant changes. At the moment, he is stable,” the 44-year-old’s manager Sabine Kehm told reporters outside the hospital in Grenoble where Schumacher has undergone two operations.

“However, it is still very early and the situation overall is critical. Everything can change immediately,” she added.

Members of the surgical team who performed the two operations on Sunday and Monday offered detailed descriptions to reporters of the procedures involved. But under a barrage of questions, they emphasised that their public statements would be limited to ‘facts’, without venturing into any prognoses on whether Schumacher would survive, how extensive any lasting brain damage involved might be, and how remediable it might be under therapy.

In any case, they stressed, it was too early to make assessments of that kind. It could take ‘weeks or months’ before the situation would allow reliable judgments to be made, they said, and in the meantime Schumacher’s condition could change sharply at any time.

“We cannot speculate on the future,” said doctor Jean-Francois Payen, head of the intensive care unit at the hospital. “We cannot say he is out of danger but we have gained some time. Things can change very quickly, in a bad way or a good way.”

Doctors have pointed out that Schumacher, due to turn 45 on January 3, has age and physical fitness on his side. He has been put in a medically induced coma to spur recovery, and his temperature has been reduced to around 35 degrees Celsius to reduce swelling.

Both operations involved drilling through Schumacher’s skull. In the first, undertaken immediately after Schumacher arrived at the hospital by helicopter, barely 90 minutes after the accident, the surgery involved the right side of his head; in the second, 24 hours later, the left side.

The doctors said that while both operations had been successful in relieving pressure, they had left multiple hematomas, or blood clots, deeper inside his brain that were not accessible to further surgery.

Among the many neurosurgeons who have come forward to discuss the Schumacher case since his accident - experts who are not involved in his care — the common view has been that the injuries described by the Grenoble team leave open a wide range of possibilities. (Agencies)