Michael Schumacher remains in a critical condition and fighting for his life after sustaining serious head injuries in an off-piste skiing accident at a resort in the French Alps, French doctors have said.
Schumacher, 44, was airlifted to Grenoble after falling heavily and hitting his head while skiing on an unmarked slope at the Méribel resort with friends and his 14-year-old son.
At a press conference in Grenoble, doctors said he was in a coma when he arrived at the hospital and had to be operated on immediately. They said his condition remained “extremely serious” and he was being kept in an artificial coma, but that it was too early to give an accurate prognosis.
“We cannot predict the future for Michael Schumacher,” Professor Marc Penaud, the deputy director of Grenoble clinic, said. “It’s too soon to talk about.”
He confirmed that the former F1 champion had arrived at the clinic at around 12:40pm on Sunday with a severe brain trauma and immediately underwent an operation.
Jean Francois Payen, the clinic’s head of anaesthetics, said Schumacher had suffered bleeding and heavy bruising on the brain. Since his arrival, the medical team at the clinic had focused on stopping the swelling, supplying the brain with oxygen and keeping the body at the recommended temperature at 34-35 degrees.
Payen said the impact had been on the right side of Schumacher’s head and that it was clear that if he had not been wearing a helmet the former world champion would not have survived the crash.
The athlete had been conscious after the crash but didn’t answer questions and was displaying “erratic” behaviour.
Overnight, various reports in the French and German media have claimed that Schumacher had been operated on twice after suffering a brain haemorrhage, but doctors said this was not the case.
Christoph Specht, a medicine journalist, told German TV that the fact that Schumacher’s brain had been bruised increased the chances of long-term damage.
Update: An earlier report said that Schumacher had undergone a 2nd operation. Doctors say he has not.