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‘Only miracle can bring Schumi back’

Berlin: Doctors treating Michael Schumacher and other medical experts have told his family that “only a miracle” can save him, sources have claimed.

The seven-time Formula One world champion suffered serious brain injuries after hitting a rock during a skiing accident in the French Alpine ski resort of Meribel in late December.

He is being treated in hospital in Grenoble where he has been in an artificially induced coma for a total of 69 days.

Sources close to his family say the 45-year-old driver’s wife Corinna and his brother, Ralf Schumacher, have been consulting brain specialists throughout Europe and have been told that his chances of recovery are minimal.

The family is said to be concerned that the French doctors treating Schumacher have little hope that he will recover and now assume that he will remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

Experts point out that most artificial comas last for an average of three weeks. Schumacher’s management team has insisted that doctors are gradually reducing drug levels to bring the driver out of his artificial coma and that he is currently in a “wake up” phase.

In a statement released on Friday, Schumacher’s management team insisted there has been no change. “Michael is still in a wake up phase, the situation has not changed. Any medical information published which is not confirmed by the team of doctors treating Michael or his management has to be considered as not valid,” said the driver’s management team spokeswoman Sabine Kehm.

At the management team’s request, the Grenoble hospital, treating Schumacher, has kept news about his condition to a minimum. However sources close to his family say that the driver’s prognosis is bleak. “The family has been told by the doctors that only a miracle can bring him back now,” a senior German journalist reporting on the Schumacher case said. “He is in a bad way but until the family issues a formal statement, we cannot publish anything,” he added.

Another source added: “Doctors have given it to them straight. Miracles sometimes happen but there is little hope that he will come out of this.”

A fortnight ago, a German magazine reported that complications had obliged doctors to halt Schumacher’s wake up process and that the driver had been put back into a coma. However, Schumacher’s management team denied the report.

Coma experts have stressed that the past week should have been crucial for Schumacher’s wake up process as doctors would have been hoping for a sign that he was gradually becoming aware of his surroundings.

However last Sunday, the Schumacher family is reported to have spent Corinna’s 45th birthday in the hospital. They gathered around the comatose driver’s bed, praying in vain for him to acknowledge their presence.

Two weeks ago, his friend and former teammate Felipe Massa was quoted as saying that Schumacher seemed to respond to him during a recent visit.

“He is sleeping, he looks normal and he showed a few responses with his mouth,” Massa said.