Peres Shows Signs of Improvement after Stroke

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Former President ShimonPeres speaks at the Independence Day celebrations of France at the French Embassy in Jaffa. (Photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)

Former president Shimon Peres, one of the nation’s founding fathers, is in stable condition today after suffering a major stroke and possibly incurring “serious damage” to his brain on Tuesday.

Peres’s son-in-law and personal physician Prof. Rafi Walden said the elder statesman seemed to have improved since the stroke and is responsive to doctors and family members. The extent of his injury, however, is still undetermined, Walden said.

“In brain damage in general, and particularly in widespread [damage] such as what he experienced, it is very difficult to make an assessment at such an early stage,” Walden said.

“There are instances where damage to a very small area can cause serious disability, while sometimes widespread harm leaves a person, upon recovery, in a reasonably functioning state.”

Other family members are maintaining a bedside vigil.

“From time to time he is revived to check progress, and at those times I was with him,” said Chemi Peres, one of his sons. “I must say that at those moments he was conscious, I spoke to him and I feel that his condition is improving over time.”

Peres is at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. He was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

Up until suffering this “massive intracranial hemorrhage” the 93-year-old politician was as busy as usual. Peres was known for maintaining a busy schedule and still well into his 90s, making tireless appearances. That morning was no different: He had filmed a video for an economic campaign in the morning and later delivered a speech to high-tech executives in Tel Aviv. It was after this speech that he began to feel unwell, aides said. He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent tests during the afternoon.

Ayelet Frisch, Peres’ spokeswoman, said that at that point he “admonished everyone to not dare cancel his schedule for tomorrow.” However at 7:30 in the evening Peres suffered the brain hemorrhage and Frisch did call off his Wednesday plans.

“We know that if he would wake up even for a minute, he would reprimand us and then he would want to know what he’s doing tomorrow morning – we dare not cancel!” she said. “Today he was supposed to meet a large delegation of evangelicals, two or three international high-tech companies that are examining investments in Israel, plus talks with students – an ordinary day in the life of Peres.”

Peres immigrated to Israel from Poland before the nation’s founding. He went on to serve in government for seven decades including two terms as prime minister and a few terms each as foreign, defense and finance minister. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for reaching an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“In his people’s eyes he ceased to be a politician. He became a historic figure, larger than politics, larger than everyday affairs, a figure in a league of his own,” Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Nahum Barnea wrote.