Schumacher undergoes brain surgery


GRENOBLE, France -- Doctors treating Michael Schumacher refused Monday to predict an outcome for the seven-time Formula One champion, saying they were taking his critical head injury "hour by hour" following a skiing accident.

Schumacher remained in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery following a skiing accident in the French Alps a day earlier, the doctors said.

The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired racing driver arrived at the clinic in a coma and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma.

In a news conference held Monday morning, chief anesthesiologist Jean-Francois Payen said Schumacher was "fighting for his life."

"We judge him to be in a very serious situation," Payen said, according to a BBC translation. "We cannot tell what the outcome will be yet. We are working hour by hour, but it's too early to say what is going to happen and to have a prognosis.

"We think his helmet did help; without a helmet he wouldn't be here now."

Payen, who is also in charge of Grenoble University Hospital's intensive-care unit, said doctors couldn't "predict the future" for Schumacher.

"He is in a critical state in terms of cerebral resuscitation," Payen added, according to The Associated Press. "We are working hour by hour."

Payen said Schumacher was being kept in an artificial coma and a lowered temperature while doctors work to supply oxygen to the brain and reduce outside stimuli. When pressed, he said that they could go no further than his current status.

Schumacher fell while skiing in Meribel earlier Sunday and hit his head on a rock, according to a statement from the resort. Schumacher's 14-year-old son was skiing with his father when the accident happened, the resort said.

Resort managers said he was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene though agitated and in a state of shock.

But Payen said Monday that after the fall Schumacher was not in a "normal state of consciousness." He was not responding to questions and his limbs appeared to be moving involuntarily.

He was airlifted to a local hospital and then later brought to Grenoble. Doctors said that stopover was typical and did not affect his condition.

His wife and other family members were by his bedside.

"The family is not doing very well, obviously. They are shocked," said his manager Sabine Kehm, who added that the family still appreciated the outpouring of support.

The French prosecutor in Albertville has opened an investigation into the accident, according to the Mountain Gendarmerie in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, which will participate in the probe. The goal is to determine the circumstances of the accident and what was responsible for it.

Earlier in the day, the Meribel resort said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.

But the situation began to appear more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital in Grenoble. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.

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