Formula One legend Michael Schumacher yesterday showed a slight improvement after a second operation following his life-threatening ski accident but was “not out of danger”, doctors treating him said. Surgeons said they had “gained some time” by performing a successful second procedure on the seven-time world champion on Monday night but he still remained critical.
Michael Schumacher. PIC/Getty Images
Schumacher, 44, underwent an operation soon after being helicoptered to the hospital on Sunday, and surgeons performed a second nearly two-hour-long procedure on Monday to remove bleeding in the left side of the brain.
Jean-Francois Payen, head of the intensive care unit, warned at a press conference yesterday that Schumacher was not out of the woods. “We cannot speculate on the future,” he said. “We cannot say he is out of danger but we have gained some time.”
He said scans showed that the removal of the bleeding had been done in a “satisfactory manner”, but ruled out Schumacher’s transfer from the hospital as it could be “dangerous”.
Doctors have said that Schumacher, who is due to turn 45 on January 3, has age and physical fitness on his side.
He had been put in a medically induced coma to spur recovery. His temperature has also been reduced to 35 degrees Celsius to reduce swelling.
By being unconscious, the brain is also switched off to sounds, light and other triggers that cause the organ to use up oxygen as it processes the stimuli.
Helmet smashed ‘in two’
A source close to an investigation into the accident said that Schumacher’s helmet, which medics say saved his life, was smashed “in two” by the impact. Schumacher was skiing with his 14-year-old son when he fell and crashed into a rock.
The German newspaper Bild also quoted a rescuer as saying the split helmet was “full of blood”.
Schumacher’s family remain “worried” despite the slight improvement, his manager Sabine Kehm said.
She added that several people had tried to sneak through the hospital and approach the former racer, and asked that he and his family be left in peace.
“There apparently was a person dressed-up as a priest, who tried to get near Michael. I am asking everyone to let the doctors work and leave the family spend peaceful time with Michael,” she said.
Asked whether the priest was a journalist, she said: “It’s what I was told... We have clearly noted that people are trying to get beyond the press room here in the clinic. It’s revolting.”
Not a high speed crash
Schumacher was not skiing at high speed when he suffered a severe accident, Kehm said, blaming instead a “chain of unfortunate circumstances”.
“Apparently the helmet broke. That doesn’t mean that Michael was travelling at high speed. He seems to have hit a rock as he took a turn. It was a chain of unfortunate circumstances.”
Kehm added that the accident could have happened even “at 10 kilometres (six miles) per hour” and took place during “a normal turning manoeuvre”.