Peres in his ‘final hours’ after rapid deterioration, doctors say
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Peres in his ‘final hours’ after rapid deterioration, doctors say

Former president and prime minister, 93, suffers irreversible brain damage 2 weeks after massive stroke

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Former president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, November 2, 2015 (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Former president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, November 2, 2015 (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Family members of former president and prime minister Shimon Peres were at his bedside late Tuesday to say goodbye as the elder statesman’s condition rapidly deteriorated.

The 93-year-old was “fighting for his life” in critical condition two weeks after he suffered a massive stroke, according to sources and the doctors who have been treating him. He has suffered irreversible brain damage, reports Tuesday evening said, and there is concern of multiple system failure.

Sources close to Shimon Peres said they believe “these are the former president’s final hours.”

Peres stopped receiving life saving treatment and was unconscious and in grave condition.

President Reuven Rivlin, in Ukraine for a state visit, told reporters that he was praying for the health of “my friend Shimon Peres.”

“My concern right now is with… Peres who is fighting for his life at these very moments.”

“Peres’s condition continues to be very serious and the lack of progress at this stage is a source for worry,” doctors at the Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv said earlier Tuesday.

Doctors said his breathing, kidney function and several other indexes had dropped, raising concerns that he could be heading for multiple organ failure.

“The president is fighting for his life,” a source close to Peres told AFP on condition of anonymity. “His health position is very, very difficult. His doctors are worried about his health.”

His spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Peres was hospitalized at the Sheba Medical Center on September 13 after suffering a major stroke. He has been under sedation since then, with doctors reporting slight progress in his condition.

Head of the Sheba Medical Center, Itzhak Krais, and Professor Raphy Walden, son-in -law and personal physician of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, speak with media at the hospital on September 14, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Head of the Sheba Medical Center, Itzhak Krais, and Professor Raphy Walden, son-in -law and personal physician of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, speak with media at the hospital on September 14, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

News of Peres’s stroke earlier this month sent shockwaves through the country, which feared the imminent loss of the last surviving link to its founding fathers.

Over a seven-decade career, the elder statesman of Israeli politics and one of the country’s most admired symbols has held virtually every senior political office, including two stints as prime minister and extended terms as foreign, defense and finance minister. He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reaching an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Long a divisive personality in politics, Peres finally became one of Israel’s most popular public figures in his later years.

World leaders sent wishes of a speedy recovery to the former president, recalling his achievements and warm personality.

Peres recently 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 personal physician Rafi 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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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