The illnesses of Ariel Sharon are a series of medical problems that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has experienced, especially coming to the fore in late 2005 and early 2006. The second stroke, which was described as "massive", rendered Sharon incapable of carrying out his duties as Prime Minister or of running in the March 2006 Israeli elections, and effectively ended his political career. Obesity The actual weight of Ariel Sharon had long been the subject of speculation. It was revealed after his first stroke in December 2005, that he weighed 118 kg (18 stone 8 lb or 260 lb) at the time, making him morbidly obese, and had subsequently lost a number of pounds. Sharon often joked about his own weight; in October 2004 when asked why he did not wear a ballistic vest despite frequent death threats, Sharon smiled and replied, "There are none that fit my size". While this obesity in itself would not necessarily lead to a stroke, the associated conditions, such as high cholesterol, could. Stroke of December 2005 On December 18, 2005 Sharon was sent to Hadassah Medical Center after suffering a mild stroke, specifically a relatively unusual type of stroke called a paradoxical embolism, in which a clot from the venous circulation crosses over into the arterial circulation through a hole between the right and left atrium called an atrial septal defect (or a patent foramen ovale) and goes to the brain, causing a transient speech and motor disturbance. On his way to the hospital he lost consciousness but regained it shortly thereafter. He reportedly wanted to leave the hospital the evening after his arrival but the hospital wanted him to stay another day. He spent two days in the hospital and was to have had the small hole in his heart repaired by a cardiac catheterization procedure in early January. Stroke of January 2006 On January 4, 2006, in the evening before his catheterization, Sharon suffered a second, far more serious stroke at his Havat Hashikmim ranch in the Negev region. A "massive cerebral haemorrhage" led to bleeding in his brain which doctors eventually brought under control the following morning after performing two separate operations. After the first operation, lasting seven hours, Hadassah Director Shlomo Mor-Yosef reported Sharon's bleeding had stopped and his brain was functioning without artificial support. After a second, 14-hour surgery, Sharon was placed on a ventilator and some reports suggested that he was suffering from paralysis in his lower body, while others said he was still fighting for his life. He was placed in an induced coma and his Prime Ministerial duties were handed over to his deputy, Ehud Olmert. On Friday, January 6, Sharon was brought back into the operating theatre after doctors reviewed the results of a brain scan. Hospital officials declined to comment on these reports. On the night of Sharon's stroke, in the wake of his serious illness and following consultations between Government Secretary Israel Maimon and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Sharon was declared "temporarily incapable of discharging his powers." As a result, Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister, was officially confirmed as the Acting Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert and the Cabinet announced that the elections would take place on 28 March as scheduled. On January 9, Haaretz reported that while performing tests on Sharon while treating his second stroke, doctors had discovered he was suffering from undiagnosed cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a brain disorder which, in conjunction with blood thinners prescribed after his first stroke, greatly increased his risk of cerebral hemorrhage. Although some have insinuated that this news represents a failure on Hadassah's part to provide adequate care for Sharon, CAA can be very difficult to accurately diagnose, and is often only discovered after an individual suffers a brain hemorrhage. The following day, newspapers reported that Sharon's CAA had actually been diagnosed following his first stroke in December. This was confirmed by hospital director Mor-Yosef who commented that "Hadassah physicians were aware of the brain diagnosis, and no new diagnosis has been made during the current hospitalization." Mor-Yosef declined to respond to criticism of the combination of blood thinners and a CAA diagnosis, though Haaretz quoted some doctors as saying the medication led to the second stroke and that it would never have been given if doctors had known about his brain condition. Sharon underwent subsequent surgeries the following month. On February 11, 2006, doctors performed emergency surgery to remove 50-cm of his large intestine that become necrotic, probably because of a blood clot. On 22 February, he underwent an additional procedure to drain excess fluid from his stomach, discovered during a routine CT scan. Criticism Several commentators have noted that Sharon's care was potentially flawed. Most seriously, after his second stroke, Sharon was transported by ground ambulance to the hospital, a trip that took approximately one hour. Helicopter transport was not utilized. Also, other commentators have said that the dose of blood thinner given to Sharon was potentially problematic for someone who had recently suffered a stroke. Incapacitation According to Israeli law, an Acting Prime Minister can remain in office 100 days after the Prime Minister has become incapacitated. After 100 days, the Israeli President must appoint a new Prime Minister. At the time of his stroke, Sharon enjoyed considerable support from the general public in Israel. The new centrist political party that he founded, Kadima, won the largest number of seats in the Knesset elections held on 28 March 2006. (Since Sharon was unable to sign a nomination form, he was not a candidate and therefore ceased to be a Knesset member.) On 6 April, President of Israel Moshe Katsav formally asked Olmert to form a government, making him Prime Minister-Designate. Olmert had an initial period of 28 days to form a governing coalition, with a possible two-week extension. On 11 April 2006, the Israeli Cabinet deemed that Sharon was incapacitated. Although Sharon's replacement was to be named within 100 days of his becoming incapacitated, the replacement deadline was extended due to the Jewish festival of Passover. A provision was made that, should Sharon's condition improve between 11 April and 14 April, the declaration would not take effect. Therefore, the official declaration took effect on 14 April, formally ending Sharon's term as Prime Minister and making Ehud Olmert the country's new Prime Minister. Subsequent care On 28 May 2006, Sharon was transferred from the hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term care unit of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, a large civilian and military hospital. Ha'aretz reported that this move was an indication that Sharon's doctors did not expect him to emerge from his coma in the foreseeable future. Dr. Yuli Krieger, a physician not involved in Sharon's case, told Israel Radio that the chances of waking up after such a lengthy coma were small. "Every day that passes after this kind of event with the patient still unconscious the chances that he will gain consciousness get smaller," said Krieger, Deputy Head of Levinstein House, another long-term care facility. On 23 July 2006, CNN reported that Sharon's condition was deteriorating and his kidney function was worsening. On July 26, 2006 doctors moved him to intensive care and began hemofiltration. On 14 August 2006 doctors reported that Sharon's condition worsened significantly and that he was suffering from pneumonia in both lungs. On August 29, doctors reported that he had been successfully treated for his pneumonia and moved out of intensive care back to the long-term care unit. On 3 November 2006, it was reported that Sharon had been admitted to intensive care after contracting an infection, though doctors insisted that his condition was 'stable'. He was moved out of the intensive care unit on November 6, 2006 after treatment for a heart infection. Doctors stated that "his heart function has improved after being treated for an infection and his overall condition has stabilised". Sharon has remained in a long-term care centre since 6 November 2006. Medical experts have indicated that Sharon's cognitive abilities were destroyed by the massive stroke, and that he is in a persistent vegetative state with extremely slim chances of regaining consciousness. On 13 April 2007, it was reported that Sharon's condition had slightly improved and that according to his son, Omri, he was marginally responsive.