Ariel Sharon's health deteriorates

Ariel Sharon, then-prime minister of Israel, in his Jerusalem offices in 2005. (Jim Hollander / European Pressphoto Agency)

JERUSALEM -- The condition of comatose former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has taken a turn for the worse and is seriously deteriorating, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

Sharon, 85, has been hospitalized in a vegetative state since suffering a massive stroke in January 2006 while serving in office. He had been elected Israel’s 11th prime minister in 2001.

Despite intense medical intervention, Sharon never regained consciousness.

Over the years, there has been no significant change in his condition, which showed brain activity and response to some stimuli though he was described as "minimally conscious" or in a "light coma."

The former leader is being treated at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv, where a decline in his condition was noted in recent weeks.

Several weeks ago, he underwent surgery to stabilize his condition, but he has now reportedly suffered renal failure and infection that could lead to overall organ failure.

Sharon’s two sons, Omri and Gilad, tended to their father over the many years of his illness. Gilad was at his hospital bedside Wednesday evening as family consulted with medical experts, media reported.

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Sobelman is a news assistant in The Times' Jerusalem bureau.