Sharon Family Reports He Opened Eyes, Doctors Deny

Family members of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been unconscious since suffering a massive stroke on January 4, say he has opened his eyes. Hadassah Hospital officials denied the report.

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 15:37

Sharon's son Gilad told reporters that his father opened his eyes after he played him a tape-recording of the Prime Minister's grandson.

Doctors treating Sharon originally denied the reports altogether, but later softened the denial. They said that even if Sharon’s family did witness movement of the prime minister’s eyelids, his pupils are unable to follow anything around him.

Gilad Sharon said that the doctors’ denial was due to the fact that his father's eyes closed again right before doctors came running into the room.

Hadassah Hospital spokeswoman Yael Bosem-Levi said that although relatives and members of the Kadima Party are interpreting the reports as positive, the “medical significance is unclear at present."

Sunday evening, Sharon was placed under general anesthesia and underwent a tracheotomy. A hole was cut in his throat and a tube inserted into his windpipe to enable unhindered breathing.

Before the operation, Sharon was breathing through a tube inserted in his nose – a mechanism that can only be used safely for up to two weeks.

An Arab man from an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood was brought Monday morning to the same hospital as the prime minister, to be tested for avian flu. The man, who works with chickens and who has shown symptoms of the disease, is in isolation and is being tested for the deadly virus. At least 79 people worldwide have died of the H5N1 strain of the flu, which has recently spread to Turkey.