The son of Shimon Peres confirmed Tuesday night that his father was in grave condition after suffering a stroke, asked for prayers on his behalf, and said the coming few hours would be critical.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Peres’s office said he was in serious but stable condition.
The head of Sheba Medical Center, Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss, said late Tuesday that Peres had suffered “a stroke with significant bleeding [on the brain], he underwent treatment, and is now sedated and intubated in intensive care. We are monitoring him constantly and in the coming hours will have a reassessment of the situation.”
A little after midnight, a second doctor at the hospital, Shlomi Matetzky, who was directly treating Peres in intensive care, said the bleeding on his brain had been stopped, and that he was lightly sedated. He said Peres had regained limited consciousness and was responsive to simple instructions. Still, underlining Peres’s continued critical condition, Matetsky ruled out operating on the president, saying this would not improve his condition.
“Not all hope is lost,” said Yoav Even, Channel 2’s medical reporter, after speaking with several doctors at the hospital. “But his condition remains extremely serious and complex.”
Addressing a flock of journalists from around the world gathered outside Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Chemi Peres paid tribute to the medical team treating the former president and said “difficult decisions” would have to be taken in the coming hours.
“There will come a time when we will need to take some decisions. Everything is dependent on how things develop and we don’t know more than that at present,” he said.
Peres’s son said the family was gathering at the hospital. “We are receiving a huge number of messages from Israel and abroad from all our friends who are surrounding us with love and care,” he added.
He stressed that “there was nothing more important to my father than Israel and its people. My father is one of a kind, I am praying for him and ask all those who pray to continue to pray with us. We thank everyone for your love and care.”
The 93-year-old former president, prime minister and Nobel peace laureate suffered what Channel 1 described as “a massive intracranial hemorrhage” earlier on Tuesday.
Sources close to the Peres family said Tuesday night that his life was “in danger” due to bleeding in the brain.
Peres underwent two CT scans Tuesday night. His latest CT showed his condition worsening, journalists were told late Tuesday.
Peres’s office said earlier he was taken to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, outside Tel Aviv, after feeling unwell. It initially said he was conscious and in stable condition, but later confirmed reports that he was sedated and on a respirator, saying his doctors had decided on this course of action as it made diagnosis and treatment more straightforward.
“Former president Peres’s doctors sedated and intubated him so as to best facilitate continued treatment,” his office said.
Peres turned 93 on August 2.
“The 9th President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, has been admitted to the Sheba Medical Center (Tel Hashomer) after suffering a stroke,” his office said in its first statement. “His condition is stable and he is fully conscious. He is currently receiving medical treatment.”
Messages of support and good wishes quickly flooded in from across the political spectrum.
“I am following with concern the updates from the hospital, and pray together with the entire country for my friend Shimon’s recovery,” said a statement from Reuven Rivlin, who in 2014 succeeded Peres as the president of Israel.
“Shimon, we love you and the whole country wishes you a speedy recovery,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also took to Twitter, urging Peres to “come back and make your wise, clear and realistic voice heard.”
Earlier this month, Peres underwent surgery to receive an artificial pacemaker, after he was diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm in July following a series of minor health scares.
The implant was recommended by Peres’s doctors, including his personal physician, Dr. Raphi Walden, after he was diagnosed in July with atrial fibrillation.
He suffered a mild heart attack in January and underwent a cardiac angioplasty to open a blocked artery. He had been hospitalized twice after suffering chest pains.
Peres, now retired, had a 55-year political career culminating in a term as Israel’s president from 2007 to 2014. He remains active through his nongovernmental Peres Center for Peace, which promotes coexistence between Arabs and Jews.
Considered the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, he served as prime minister twice — from 1984 to 1986 as part of a rotational government, and for a few months in 1995 and 1996 after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. He spent most of his career in the Labor Party.